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TBB head claims pilot downing Russian war jet might be killed

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The Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) head Metin Feyzioğlu has claimed that the pilot, who downed a Russian fighter jet last year, might be killed by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB).

Speaking to the Sözcü, a daily critical of the Turkish government, Feyzioğlu said, “If something happens to our F-16 pilot, if he leaves home one day to discover the meaning of life and nobody hears from him again, if he draws his last breath over a traffic accident or a lightning strikes on a plane he is in and kills him, then I will attribute the incident to the Russian Intelligence Agency FSB.

Feyzioğlu added that provided something such as this happened, our nation would ask “Who revealed the identity of our pilot?”

“Bottom line is that we are not interested in some people’s plans [triggered by this incident]. The life of our F-16 pilot is our government’s honor,” he also said.

A Russian fighter jet was shot down by Turkish military aircraft near Turkey’s border with Syria on November 24, 2015. Following the incident, two contradicting official statements came from the two countries. According to Russian President Putin, the Su-24 was struck by air-to-air missiles fired by Turkish F-16s as it was flying over Syrian territory. However, the Turkish government claimed that the Russian plane violated Turkish airspace and it was engaged after being warned.

The pilot of the downed Russian plane was shot dead reportedly as he descended with parachute after surviving the crash.

Russia imposed a number of sanctions on Turkey in response to the incident.

Following the incident, Alparslan Çelik, a Turkish ultra-nationalist, had claimed that his group killed the Russian pilot. Çelik was reportedly fighting in the ranks of Turkmen groups in Syria.

In December 2015, Moscow demanded Çelik’s arrest and extradition to Russia. A Turkish court in the western province of Izmir ruled for arrest of Çelik in late March. The Turkish court dropped charges against Çelik on May 10.

Another criminal investigation was later launched against Çelik on charges of “possessing war weapon,” however, he was released pending trial along with six others on June 27 with a travel ban to abroad.

The Kremlin announced on the same day that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan apologized to Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a letter over Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian war plane in late 2015.

The statement said Putin had received a letter from Erdoğan “in which the Turkish leader expressed his desire to resolve the situation connected to the downing of a Russian military aircraft.” Erdoğan was quoted in the Kremlin statement as writing “I want to once again express my sympathy and deep condolences to the family of the Russian pilot who died and I say: ‘I’m sorry.”

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