A court in the central city of Kayseri slapped a prison term of 12 years on İsmail Çelik, a member of Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) who asked for his release, claiming he had "no intention of escape." His final plea at the hearing yesterday comes after he was captured on the Turkish border with Greece. Çelik, who was carrying a fake ID at the time of his capture, was in Edirne after he run over a police officer who tried to stop him as he was about to flee his hometown Kayseri when the police was about to catch him.
He was charged with membership of a terrorist group. Eyewitnesses testifying against him said Çelik had the code name "Sadık" within the group and was assigned the duty of overseeing some military officers loyal to the terrorist group. FETÖ is accused of July 15, 2016 coup attempt through its infiltrators in the Turkish military. The defendant's brother is also accused of membership of FETÖ and fled to Bosnia-Herzegovina when authorities issued an arrest warrant for him.
Tens of thousands of people were detained or arrested after the coup attempt that killed 251 people. Authorities carry out almost daily operations to capture suspects linked to the group. The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office issued arrest warrants for 25 soldiers and 20 "imams," the civilian handlers for FETÖ's military infiltrators. Twelve soldiers and six civilians were detained while operations were underway to capture the rest of the suspects.
Security forces concluded preliminary investigations into FETÖ infiltrators in provincial government offices, law enforcement and the judiciary who contacted their FETÖ handlers in charge of the infiltrators through payphones. Some 2,000 suspects were identified in the investigation that revealed secret tactics the group employed to avoid detection. A similar investigation in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has seen the detention of hundreds of serving and former soldiers.
FETÖ is known for practicing utmost secrecy in a fashion that is likened to the tactics of professional intelligence agencies. Senior figures of the group never directly contacted other members and often used point men who arranged secret meetings, former Gülenists say. Prior to the coup attempt, Turkish intelligence discovered that the terrorist group used - and believed to have developed - ByLock, an encrypted messaging app, exclusively to relay high-ranking members' instructions to FETÖ members.