Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, the police officer who assassinated Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey last week, was financially rewarded more than 30 times by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in a two-and-a-half-year period, the aktifhaber news website reported on Sunday.
According to the report, Altıntaş was recruited to police ranks in 2014 through the AKP reference system, which was initiated by the government following the Dec. 17/25, 2013 corruption operation that implicated several ministers and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s family.
The AKP had discarded its previous recruiting system and closed police academies in reaction to the corruption investigations, which the government claimed was a coup attempt by the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has lived in the US since 1999.
The report claims that Altıntaş received over 30 salary awards in two-and-a-half years.
While the Turkish government insists on claiming that Altıntaş is linked to the Gülen movement, it has also been discovered that the gunman attended the sermons of Nurettin Yıldız, a staunch supporter of President Erdoğan.
The Hürriyet daily reported over the weekend that police officer Altıntaş, who shouted al Nusra Front slogans after shooting the Russian ambassador in an art gallery on Monday, attended the sermons of Yıldız at Ankara’s Hacı Bayram Mosque.
In a sermon shared on social media on Sunday, Yıldız calls on the government to either kill or exile Gülen movement followers, not to feed them in prisons.
Over 120,000 people have been purged and 40,000 others have been arrested as part of a witch-hunt launched by the government against the Gülen movement following a coup attempt on July 15.
Hamidiye Altıntaş, the mother of police officer Mevlüt Altıntaş, denied pro-government media claims that her son attended a prep school linked to the Gülen movement before joining the police force, the T24 news website reported on Friday.
President Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government claimed in the first hours after the assassination that the murderer was a member of the Gülen movement.
Accordingly pro-Erdoğan media published stories that police officer Altıntaş attended the Körfez preparation school, which was closed down by the government.
Another pro-government media claim that the murderer of the Russian ambassador had used a smart phone application known as Bylock in an effort to link the gunman to the Gülen movement was also denied on Thursday.
According to a Doğan news agency report, Altıntaş did not download ByLock, although pro-government columnist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote on the same day in Hürriyet that the policeman had downloaded the application.
A pro-government daily similarly claimed that Altıntaş was connected to 10 blacklisted Bylock users, according to government reports.
Selvi further asserted that the police officer was a suspect in a plagiarism investigation from 2010 in which the Gülen movement was accused of stealing questions for the KPSS exam, a prerequisite for placement in the bureaucracy. However, the murderer, born in 1994, would not have been eligible to take that exam in 2010.
All the suspects in this particular probe were either dismissed or jailed. Yet, journalist Ahmet Şık, a strong critic of the Gülen movement, tweeted that the police officer had never been the subject of any Gülen-linked investigation.
Moreover, according to pro-government media reports, Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş had served on police details backing up President Erdoğan’s personal bodyguards eight times since the failed military coup on July 15.
The Turkish government has been waging an all-out war against the Gülen movement since the eruption of the corruption scandal in late 2013. The government’s crackdown on the movement reached new heights with the failed coup attempt on July 15 as the government held the movement responsible for the putsch. The movement strongly denies having any role in the failed coup.
Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen on Monday condemned the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey as a “heinous act of terror” and urged the Turkish government to identify anyone who aided the gunman.