A suspect accused of running a network of infiltrators in the military on behalf of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) confessed to authorities that two men captured at a military base during the 2016 coup attempt were indeed FETÖ members.
Birol K., whose last name was withheld by authorities, was recently detained in Istanbul in an investigation into his role as an imam for temporary officers in the Air Force. The terrorist group's members in charge of its members are referred to as imams. Using a law granting a reduction in prison terms for terrorist suspects, he chose to be an informant.
According to his confession, Adil Öksüz and Kemal Batmaz, two civilians captured at Akıncı Air Base, the command center of the putschists on July 15, 2016, were imams for Air Force FETÖ infiltrators. Birol K. said it was actually Batmaz, not Öksüz, who controlled infiltrators during the coup attempt. Öksüz, who is currently on the run, was long thought to be the mastermind of the coup attempt, and prosecutors claim he attended meetings with putschist officers to plan it.
Batmaz denies any link to the group and in his court testimony, claimed it was not him in the security camera footage from the base. An executive of a company affiliated with FETÖ, Batmaz and an employee of another FETÖ-linked company were found near the base during the coup attempt in which 249 people were killed.
The suspect acknowledged that the Ankara villa where Öksüz met putschist officers was used by imams before, as well, and that he stayed there in February 2016, too, although he denied any links to the coup. He said Öksüz was the imam for the Air Force between 2009 and 2014, and handed it over to Batmaz that year.
FETÖ is accused of orchestrating multiple coup attempts in Turkey, and its members face terrorism charges. After two failed attempts in 2013, the group's members tried to seize power through its infiltrators in the military on July 15, 2016.
Prosecutors claim that the group's infiltrators in law enforcement, the judiciary, the bureaucracy and the military had waged a long-running campaign to topple the government.
Tens of thousands were detained or arrested after the coup attempt and coup trials are underway across Turkey. Few civilian FETÖ members have appeared before the courts, as many managed to flee abroad before and after the coup attempt. Authorities launch almost daily operations to capture the group's members and pursue international efforts to bring fugitive suspects to justice, including FETÖ's U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen.