Turkey’s parliamentary Coup Investigation Commission member and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Aytun Çıray said the government wants the commission to send written questions to National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar about a coup attempt on July 15, saying it is an attempt to whitewash the coup, the T24 news website reported on Monday.
“Selçuk Özdağ [Justice and Development Party (AKP) member of the parliamentary commission] says we will hear the ‘confessors’ they arranged instead of people they refused to hear such as Dişli, [Gen. Mehmet Dişli, brother of AKP Deputy Chairman Şaban Dişli]; Partigöç [Brig. Gen. Mehmet Partigöç]; a major who informed MİT about the coup attempt; and the pilot who bombed Parliament. While they say all must talk to the commission, on the other hand they want us to send written questions to the head of MİT and the chief of general staff. This is clearly a whitewash,” said Çıray in a written statement on Monday in response to the remarks of Özdağ, to the state-run Anadolu news agency on Sunday.
Çıray also strongly criticized Özdağ’s statement that the commission has started writing its report on the July 15 coup attempt. “They have to explain to society why they did not include CHP experts in writing the report,” he said.
Çıray claimed that the government was trying to prevent Gülen movement members in the AKP from being exposed.
MİT denies claims of AKP member of coup commission
In a separate development on Monday MİT denied remarks made by Özdağ that in addition to the major who informed MİT at around 15:00 p.m. on July 15 about the coup attempt, a conscript also went to MİT to inform officials about a plan which he said was aimed at detaining Fidan and launching an operation against the government.
MİT sources told the Hürriyet daily on Monday that no conscript informed MİT on July 15 and that only a major had visited MİT to inform them about the attempt.
Özdağ also said in the same statement on Sunday that both the major and the conscript have been sent to jail for protection.
Meanwhile Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Harun Kodalak on Monday denied news stories that his office had attempted to obtain the testimony of MİT head Fidan as part of its investigation into July 15. “We have not yet demanded Hakan Fidan’s testimony,” he said.
A story published in Hürriyet on Monday claimed that Kodalak sent a written application to the Prime Ministry to ask permission for Fidan to testify.
A debate over the testimony of Fidan and Akar has been dominating the work of the Coup Investigation Commission.
AKP deputy and chairman of the commission Reşat Petek said in an interview published in the Habertürk daily on Sunday that the commission has so far been unable to hear Chief of General Staff Akar over the coup attempt because he is busy commanding wars in both Iraq and Syria.
Akar and all force commanders were taken hostage by coup plotters at Akıncı Air Base in Ankara on July 15. They were rescued on July 16. The commission is being criticized for not inviting Gen. Akar to testify.
Petek also underlined that the commission needs to obtain permission from the prime minister to hear the testimony of MİT undersecretary Fidan related to the coup attempt.
“Although we have been unable to invite Fidan to the commission, we have sent a written request to the MİT Undersecretariat about when and how they learned about the coup attempt and what they did after that. We asked for detailed answers in chronological order. No answer has yet been provided. We are waiting for it now, and we will share it when we receive it,” said Petek, in response to a question asking why President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım were unable to contact Fidan on the night of July 15.
Petek’s remarks attracted criticism on social media due to recent photos of Gen. Akar posing with Erdoğan and Fidan during a visit to Uzbekistan. “Gen. Akar is busy with wars but has time to visit Tashkent,” wrote some Twitter users.
Efforts by the opposition party members of the commission to invite Gen. Akar and MİT’s Fidan to testify have been prevented by the AKP members of the commission. This paved the way for more speculation and questions about what really happened on July 15.
CHP deputy Aykut Erdoğdu, a member of the Coup Investigation Commission, hinted on Saturday that the failed coup on July 15 was a calculated move on the part of Erdoğan and the AKP.
Erdoğdu said in an interview with the Birgün daily in October that the AKP was trying to obscure the realities behind the failed coup attempt on July 15 since the commission is being prevented from doing its job by “hidden hands.”
“The strongest and dirtiest hidden hand [to prevent the commission from continuing its investigation] is the ‘palace’ [Erdoğan’s] hand. It seems like the July 15 coup attempt was a Middle Eastern attempt.”
The Coup Investigation Commission on Nov. 24 declined to hear the testimony of putschist general Mehmet Dişli due to the “nay” votes of the AKP commission members. Maj. Gen. Dişli, was actively involved in the coup and was arrested after the attempt failed.
The members of the commission from the AKP also refused to hear the testimony of military officers who bombed the parliament building on July 15.
Kati Piri, Turkey rapporteur for the European Parliament, said on Nov. 22 to a group of journalists in Strasbourg that despite the passage of four months since the attempted coup in Turkey, questions still persist.
“We don’t clearly know what happened and who was really behind it. Questions about July 15 are still there despite the fact that four months have passed. Investigative journalists do not have a chance to investigate and write about what happened,” said Piri upon a question as to whether the Gülen movement was behind the coup attempt.
The AKP government, which launched a war against the Gülen movement following the eruption of a corruption scandal in late 2013 in which senior government members were implicated, carried its ongoing crackdown on the movement and its sympathizers to a new level after the failed coup attempt on July 15 that killed 240 people and injured a thousand others.
Although the movement strongly denies having any role in the corruption probe or the coup attempt, the government accuses it of having masterminded both despite the lack of any tangible evidence.
Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a great gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
A report published by the German Focus magazine in August claimed that Turkish government members decided to put the blame for the coup attempt on Gülen half an hour after the uprising and agreed to begin a purge of Gülen followers the next day.
More than 120,000 people have been purged from state bodies, over 80,000 detained and some 40,000 arrested since the coup attempt. Arrestees included journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and even a comedian.
Critics argue that lists of Gülen sympathizers were drawn up prior to the coup attempt.