Coup suspect general says he reported Gülen-linked generals in 2014

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MUGLA, TURKEY - JULY 17: Defendant Gokhan Sonmezates (R-2), who attempted to assassinate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the southwestern Mugla province on July 15, 2016, arrives for his third trial under heavy security measures at the Mugla Chamber of Commerce and Industry's conference hall in Mugla, Turkey on July 17, 2017. AFP

Brig. Gen. Gökhan Şahin Sönmezateş, the commander of a team that targeted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s hotel during the night of a failed coup last year, denied any links to the Gülen movement, which is accused of being behind the coup attempt, and said he had reported the names of 22 Gülen-linked top generals to the General Staff in 2014.

According to a HaberTürk daily report on Wednesday, Sönmezateş wrote a letter to the General Staff on April 13, 2014 reporting on 22 generals in the Turkish military and wanted then-Prime Minister Erdoğan to be informed.

He also gave the same letter to then-Air Forces Commander Akın Öztürk, now a coup suspect, to be given to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT).

Earlier in March, Sönmezateş had denied links to the movement but admitted his involvement in the putsch.

Sönmezateş also said they received an order from the office of the Chief Of General Staff to go to Erdoğan’s hotel but were intentionally deceived and kept waiting for four hours as the president was flown to İstanbul.

Erdoğan called the botched coup a great gift of God and immediately put the blame on the Gülen movement and launched a widespread cleansing of the military, judiciary, police and other state institutions.

US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose views inspired the movement, denied any involvement in the coup attempt.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

According to a tally by TurkeyPurge.com, nearly 146,000 people, including some 10,000 soldiers, have been dismissed from government jobs, more than 122,00 detained and almost 57,000 arrested over links to the movement.

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