Gülen suspect saved by cocaine habit

The discovery of traces of cocaine on a dollar bill spurred a Turkish prosecutor to drop charges against an alleged member of an organisation blamed for the failed 2016 coup attempt, Russian news site Sputnik reported on Friday.

The strange series of events that led Mehmet Sinan İnce to a short spell in detention as a suspected coup plotter began in August 2016, when he visited the former general Akın Öztürk in prison.

İnce, a lawyer whose clients include the notorious Turkish mafia boss Alaattin Çakıcı, began to strike Öztürk, a former general who is one of the prime suspects in the botched July 2016 coup attempt.

A complaint from Öztürk prompted Turkish police to search İnce’s home, where they found an object that in Turkey has come to be seen as damning evidence by the country’s legal officials: a U.S. one-dollar bill.

Turkish authorities, including the Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesperson Bekir Bozdağ, allege that these bills are used by followers of Fethullah Gülen, an exiled Islamist preacher accused of planning the coup attempt, to send each other messages and determine their rank in the alleged criminal network said to be run by Gülen.

The link between dollar bills and Gülen was made after several individuals suspected of being high ranking members of the organisation were discovered to have one-dollar bills suspiciously stored in their homes.

The dollar bills have been used as evidence in a number of trials of individuals accused of links to the preacher. These include Serkan Gölge, a NASA scientist and U.S., citizen who is on trial accused of membership of a terrorist organisation, in no small part since he was found to possess a one-dollar bill.

İnce, however, has been spared a similar fate thanks to his self-professed cocaine habit. The lawyer told prosecutors he had kept the banknote in order to snort cocaine with it, a claim that the prosecutors accepted after sending it to a laboratory for testing.

Tests revealed traces of the cocaine on the bill, and, satisfied that İnce was using the money for legitimate purposes, prosecutors released him on Sep. 9, 2016.

İnce has since been hit with separate charges related to possession of ammunition and illegal drugs with intent to use them, according to Sputnik.