Government blocks testimony of military, intelligence heads in coup investigation

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Head of Turkey's intelligence service, Hakan Fidan (L) and Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar (R) speak as they arrive ahead of a press conference on October 10, 2016 in Istanbul. Putin visits Turkey on October 10 for talks with counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pushing forward ambitious joint energy projects as the two sides try to overcome a crisis in ties. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

An opposition proposal for a joint parliamentary commission to hear the testimony of the heads of the military and intelligence agency was blocked by government deputies on Thursday.

A parliamentary commission was established to investigate a botched coup on July 15 in Turkey. Although the government based its accusations of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen as the alleged mastermind of the coup attempt on the initial testimony of Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, the opposition’s offer to hear to him as well as the undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) as witnesses was rejected by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies on the commission.

Shortly after the abortive coup, Akar claimed that the putchists wanted to put him on the phone with Gülen on the night of the coup, calling him “our pundit,” a term the Gülen movement has never used. His testimony remains the main basis for the government’s accusation against Gülen.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Aytunç Çıray asked the commission to hear the relatives of the July 15 victims as well as the chief of general staff and the head of MİT to shed light on the facts behind the coup. Çıray said that without knowing what really happened when Akar and MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan talked on the night of the coup for five hours, the facts surrounding the coup could not be known.

Despite this proposal, the president of the commission from the AKP, deputy Reşat Petek, and his fellow politicians from the governing party opposed the idea.

According to the CHP’s Çıray, there are three arguments regarding the coup in Turkey. One is that the Gülen movement carried it out. The second is that the coup attempt was a plot staged by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government. Third is that the government let the coup take place despite earlier intelligence. Çıray urged obtaining the testimony of Akar and Fidan to ascertain the facts behind the coup. He also reported alleged phone calls abroad and asked for an investigation of the call logs of top officials.

Another opposition deputy, the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) Mehmet Erdoğan, also asked that Fidan be invited to the commission, saying that it is inexplicable why Fidan went to the Directorate of Religious Affairs after leaving the office of the chief of general staff.

The commission, however, decided to hear the testimony of former chiefs of general staff. Erdoğan’s brother-in-law, Ziya İlgen, will also talk to the commission since the president told the media that he learned about the coup attempt from his brother-in-law.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisor Alexandr Dugin will also asked to testify for his statement saying that he had informed Turkey about the coup on July 14.

In order to protest the AKP’s ban on the broadcast of the commission meeting, opposition deputies went live on Periscope until their batteries died in an effort to let the public hear the debates.

Erdoğan and the government have been accusing Gülen of perpetrating the attempted coup since its very first hours.

 

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