Staff recounts FETÖ putschists raid on TRT in trial

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 10.09.2019 00:17

It was the turn of plaintiffs in a trial of the putschists who raided the public broadcaster TRT on July 15, 2016. The crew of the broadcaster testified on what happened when soldiers aligned with Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) stormed the broadcaster's headquarters in the capital Ankara in a trial in the Turkish capital yesterday.

Some 521 defendants are being tried in the Presidential Guard Regiment trial that is underway in Ankara. The members of the prestigious regiment are accused of attempting to take over TRT, where they tried to cut off the broadcast.

In yesterday's hearing, plaintiffs detailed how soldiers arrived to take over the TRT building as a coup was unfolding across Turkey on the orders of FETÖ leaders.

Emine Özlem Avcı was working at the TRT news department when she heard a noise in the production control room around 10 p.m. on July 15, 2016.

"I saw soldiers going upstairs to news studio and yelling the staff to lay down on the ground. We were taken to one floor below and soldiers told us that Daesh would carry out a terrorist attack. We were ordered to lay on the floor again. I saw some colleagues being handcuffed and soldiers told us not to raise our heads while on the ground. They were also talking about reading some sort of declaration. I could not see who was speaking. They later took us to another room on the upper floor while some were ordered to stay where they are. I was among nine people who were locked up in that room until after [the coup attempt] ended," Avcı told the court. Cumhur Kılıç was a chief technician working in a unit for broadcast transmission when the coup attempt took place. He was at night shift when he noticed transmission from TRT World, TRT Çocuk and TRT Müzik channels, which broadcast from Istanbul, were cut off.

"We tried to contact Istanbul but we couldn't. Lines were dead. Around 23:30, some people wearing military fatigues and some civilians came to my unit. A high-ranking officer was leading the group. He did not say anything other ‘You will receive orders from us from now on. Anyone disobeying will be punished,' he said. It was when I realized that this was a coup. All except a man in civilian clothes and a soldier left. The civilian apparently knew about broadcast transmissions. They wanted us to connect TRT Haber (News) channel's broadcast to all other TRT channels. They wanted a simultaneous broadcast on all channels. I argued with them and tried to find excuses not to do what they wanted. At midnight, we saw a declaration of coup announced on TV," he told the court.

He added that the broadcast was cut off when the satellite provider TÜRKSAT shut down the transmission and it was only then that he found out that people opposing the coup were entering the TRT building. A strong public resistance ultimately foiled the putsch bid that killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200 others but putschists had succeeded in having a TV presenter they held at gunpoint to read the declaration of the coup in the name of their so-called Peace At Home Council.

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