The key to the persistent denial of guilt among the defendants testifying in trials over the July 15, 2016 coup attempt might be that they are secretly "motivated" to resist by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). FETÖ, accused of masterminding the coup through its infiltrators in the military, apparently seeks to stop the likely confessions of the defendants with notes sent to them.
Such a note was intercepted when a military officer was trying to hand it to a nonmilitary point man of the terrorist group. Apparently addressing some of the female defendants, the note says: "My dear sisters, my dear daughters. Keep your spirits high. You have a great burden upon you but do not worry. You will be amazed how soon it is until you reunite your loved ones," the note reads.
İsmail Küçükberber, a lieutenant who was among the 486 defendants in a coup trial in the capital Ankara, was trying to hand it to Harun Biniş, another defendant, during a hearing on Nov. 10, media reports on Friday said. The note apparently addresses the female detainees in the case, including a lieutenant colonel, a captain and three lieutenants, and Biniş was instructed to hand it to them, according to gendarmerie officers who intercepted the attempt. Gendarmerie officers in the courtroom also testified that it might be penned by Kubilay Selçuk, a former general among the defendants, as he sought to grab the note when it was intercepted.
Accused of being a member of the junta, which called itself the Peace At Home Council, Selçuk denied his links to FETÖ. His name was on a list that was found in the possession of the putschists captured after the coup was quelled and, if the coup had succeeded, he would have been assigned as the operations commander of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).
The former general explained his presence at the Akıncı military base on that fateful night as being a "coincidence," linking his rehearsal in reciting a coup declaration on behalf of the putschists to another coincidence. Selçuk and other generals involved in the coup are accused of holding Akar and other anti-coup generals hostage at the base. The defendant was the commander of an air base where two teams of would-be assassins of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were dispatched from.
An indictment on what happened at Akıncı names FETÖ's U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen as the prime suspect in the coup bid and says the base was intended to be used as Gülen's home if the putschists had been successful. Gülen denies any links to the coup but evidence that surfaced after the thwarted coup attempt shows that he actually gave approval for the plot to seize power by FETÖ-linked military officers, ranging from generals to noncommissioned officers.
The indictment, accompanied with photos of Akıncı Air Base and images from security camera footage showing those involved in the coup, says Gülen was "number one" in the coup attempt, while Adil Öksüz and Kemal Batmaz, two "civilian" members of FETÖ, are named as his accomplices. Öksüz was nabbed by security forces at the base after the coup was quelled, while Batmaz is seen in the security camera footage included in the indictment walking freely in the aisles of the military base command floor and at some point, receiving a military salute from an officer. Batmaz was a businessman running a FETÖ-linked company and he was among the few civilians at the base on the night of the coup attempt.
Harun Biniş is "a civilian imam," or point man responsible for FETÖ infiltrators in the military, according to prosecutors. Biniş was formerly employed at Sürat Information Company, which is affiliated with FETÖ-owned Kaynak Holding. He also worked for Turkey's Telecommunication Directorate (TİB) between 2010 and 2012. He took part in establishing TİB's communication systems that operated as a wiretapping service for FETÖ during those years.
He had claimed that he accompanied Batmaz while the latter was looking for a plot of land he planned to purchase. However, a military officer who confessed his ties to the terrorist group had claimed Biniş was present at the meeting of FETÖ figures and military infiltrators to plan the coup days before the putsch attempt.
A report last year by security officials at Sincan prison where Selçuk, Biniş and Küçükberber are held had showed that FETÖ-linked suspects planned a mass escape. The report also stressed that FETÖ inmates do not miss any opportunity to communicate, having developed a secret communication method through hand signals and gestures with each other, adding that their overall group behavior indicates preparation for a possible uprising, hostage-taking, arson or escape attempt.
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