Jun 29 2018

Policemen leading investigation into top Turkish coup suspect arrested

The policeman put in charge of the effort to catch the number one suspect behind the July 2016 failed coup attempt has been arrested alongside another officer heavily involved in the investigation, pro-government broadcaster A Haber said.

Ercan Özoğluöz, who headed the anti-smuggling and organised crime team at Sakarya police station and led the investigation into coup suspect Adil Öksüz, and Superintendant Muhittin Fidan, another member of the investigation team, were arrested on suspicion of being members of the Fethullah Gülen movement. Gülen and his movement deny the charges.

Turkey accuses U.S.-based Gülen of ordering the coup and Öksüz, a theology professor at Sakarya University, of being the key link between the Islamist preacher and military officers belonging to the secretive movement who mobilised troops under their command to try to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. More than 200 people were killed during the coup attempt.

Öksüz was arrested outside an air base near the capital Ankara on the morning after the coup, but was later freed by a judge, now also charged with links to Gülen, and has not been seen since. Recent news articles have suggested he is being kept in a safe house by German authorities.

According to A Haber, Özoğluöz’s connection to the movement was discovered last year following the discovery of a memory card with details about the religious movement. He was formally suspended from the force in April 2017 and was among 650 former policemen put under further investigation in April this year.

The Gülen movement was for years allied to Erdoğan’s ruling Islamist party, encouraging graduates of its many schools and universities to take up influential posts in the civil service, police, military, judiciary and media. But the two wings of Turkish Islamism fell out with Erdoğan accusing the Gülenists of trying to build a parallel state within the state and prosecutors linked to Gülen launching corruption charges against ministers and their relatives in late 2013.