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Prosecutor denies claims that deputy helped prime coup suspect escape

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The Samsun Public Prosecutor’s Office on Sunday denied that ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Samsun deputy Fuat Köktaş and İlkadım district mayor Erdoğan Tok helped Adil Öksüz, a major suspect in the investigation into a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, to flee abroad.

A statement by the office on Sunday said a report by the Aydınlık daily, which is associated with ultranationalist Homeland Party (VP) of Doğu Perinçek, saying Öksüz came to Samsun from Ankara in a car belonging to Köktaş and stayed at a house owned by Tok in Samsun until he fled abroad is not true.

“It is out of the question that there is any investigation into İlkadım mayor Erdoğan Tok for helping coup attempt suspect Adil Öksüz to escape. There is no legal investigation by the Samsun Public Prosecutor’s Office as there are no MOBESE (CCTV) recordings or images,” said the statement.

According to Aydınlık, Öksüz, who was briefly detained in Ankara on July 16 following the coup attempt, was brought to Samsun in Köktaş’s car and hid in Tok’s house until he was taken to the port of Yeşilyurt and left for Batumi, Georgia, in a ship.

Aydınlık also claimed that Öksüz is hiding in Kyrgyzstan, where he went from Georgia, and is planning to go to Canada.

Turkish authorities accuse Öksüz of being one of the leading figures in the failed coup last summer and having connections with the faith-based Gülen movement, which is also accused of masterminding the coup attempt.

Following the coup attempt, pro-government media outlets reported that Öksüz was briefly detained when he was leaving the Akıncı Main Jet Base Command in Ankara after meeting several soldiers there and subsequently released.

Prior to the coup attempt, Öksüz was an academic in Sakarya University’s theology department.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 which killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, AKP government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a 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.

Over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10.

As of March 23, 94,982 people were being held without charge, with an additional 47,128 in pre-trial detention due to their alleged links to the movement. A total of 7,317 academics were purged as well as 4,272 judges and prosecutors, who were dismissed due to alleged involvement in the July 15 coup attempt.

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