Police found traces of a search for information on slain Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov on the computer of lawyer Serkan Ö., who is a former roommate of Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, the police officer who assassinated Karlov in Ankara last month, Hürriyet reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, police accessed data indicating that Serkan Ö. had searched for photographs of Ambassador Karlov in October.
During the investigation into the gunman, police temporarily shut down PGS, the law office for which lawyer Ö. works. The partners of the PGS law firm had shared photos with government officials including Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu that have been circulated on the Internet.
Altıntaş was recruited to police ranks in 2014 through the Justice and Development Party (AKP) reference system, which was initiated by the government following a Dec. 17/25, 2013 corruption operation that implicated several ministers and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s family.
The gunman Altıntaş was financially rewarded more than 30 times by the AKP in a two-and-a-half-year period as a police officer.
Moreover, according to pro-government media reports, Altıntaş had served on police details backing up President Erdoğan’s personal bodyguards eight times since a failed military coup on July 15.
Turkey had issued a gag order on the investigation into the assassination of the Russian envoy hours after the Hürriyet daily published an interview with the gunman’s sister. As opposed to Erdoğan’s claims connecting the gunman to the Gülen movement, his sister denied any links on his part to the movement and questioned how he had not been dismissed in massive purges over Gülen links.
Altıntaş’s sister denied allegations that he had attended a Gülen-linked prep school and that a businessman had helped the family with the gunman’s education. Altıntaş’s sister said her brother had changed after starting at the police school and emphasized the non-pious lifestyle of the family.
She also referred to a close friend of the police officer, who gunned down the Russian envoy and then chanted radical slogans protesting the involvement of Russia in Aleppo.
According to her account, her brother was extremely close to a man she called “S.” and said that even when on duty he was with this young man. This colleague, S.B., and Altıntaş were also roommates until S.B. got married.
It was also reported that the gunman had attended the sermons of Nurettin Yıldız, a staunch supporter of President Erdoğan.
The Hürriyet daily reported that police officer Altıntaş, who shouted al Nusra Front slogans after shooting the Russian ambassador in an art gallery, attended the sermons of Yıldız at Ankara’s Hacı Bayram Mosque.
Yıldız, the president of the Social Fabric Foundation (Sosyal Doku Vakfı), had sparked a public reaction after he argued that marrying a 6-year-old girl is legitimate. In addition to this remark that caused outrage, Yıldız also said it is a sin to watch a woman news anchor on TV and that women should be grateful to be beaten.
In an interview with the state-owned Anadolu news agency, Yıldız voiced support for Erdoğan, saying that it was a requirement of his faith to support the president.