FETÖ suspect turns himself in after returning from Poland, collaborates with police

Published 11.01.2019 00:32
Updated 11.01.2019 08:00

A suspect linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), turned himself in to Turkish authorities after arriving from Poland Wednesday, officials confirmed yesterday.

İsmail Çolak, the owner of a popular restaurant chain in northern Turkey, was wanted by prosecutors in northwestern Turkey's Düzce for his connections to FETÖ. He had an outstanding arrest warrant against his name.

The authorities announced that he contacted police after arriving at an Istanbul airport. He then surrendered and agreed to collaborate with the authorities in an investigation into the terrorist group.

A remorse law in the Turkish penal code offers former terrorist group members a provision for lenient sentences in exchange of collaborating with the authorities.

Çolak had fled after a lawsuit in Düzce was filed against him and a number of other businesspeople, who were members of a now-defunct business association with ties to FETÖ. His restaurant chain was closed down five days after the July 15, 2016, coup attempt blamed on the military infiltrators of FETÖ.

The terrorist group is known for collecting money from businesspeople to finance its criminal activities. Some were willing donors, while others were forced to donate following threats from the terrorist group, criminal investigations show.

In the latest operation against FETÖ donors, police in the northwestern city of Bursa detained 13 businessmen who donated about TL 1 million ($180,000) in total to a now-defunct university affiliated with the terrorist group.

FETÖ, which disguised itself as a charity with religious undertones, faces a string of criminal investigations in Turkey. Before it tried to seize power in 2016 and killing 251 people in the process, it was involved in two bloodless coup attempts in 2013.

Senior members of FETÖ fled abroad shortly before and after the 2016 putsch bid, while its leader Fetullah Gülen has lived in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1999.

Turkey launched a manhunt against the terrorist group following the coup attempt and has been seeking the extraditions of at least 419 members and senior figures of the terrorist group from various countries.

The country has also requested red notices, or international detention warrants, for a number of FETÖ members whose whereabouts are not known. The U.S., where Gülen resides, has received the most extradition requests.

The country has so far brought back at least 80 members of FETÖ from 18 countries in an international manhunt, which has ranged from Kosovo to Malaysia.

Media reports said the country identified some 4,600 suspected members of the group around the world. Turkish courts also periodically issue arrest warrants for FETÖ members abroad.

FETÖ suspects mostly live in the U.S., Germany and Canada. Ankara has long complained of reluctance from European countries and the U.S. to cooperate in the fight against FETÖ. A majority of Turkey's allies in Africa and Asia have shut down FETÖ-linked schools and have already extradited wanted suspects.

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