US academic Henri Barkey, who is being sought by a Turkish prosecutor for planning last year’s failed coup attempt during a secret meeting on Istanbul’s Büyükada island, said both the Turkish Embassy in Washington and the Turkish Foreign Ministry undersecretary were aware of the meeting.
“The Turkish state knows who the participants were. It was not a secret. Moreover the Turkish Embassy in Washington was aware of it. I had informed the then-Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary [Feridun Sinirlioğlu] that I was organizing the meeting,” Barkey said in an exclusive interview with Amberin Zaman for the Diken news website on Sunday.
“The government wanted to blame the US for the coup attempt. They accused me because I happened to be there [in Turkey] at that time by chance. The government gave the first information to ‘journalists’,” said Barkey, director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center, adding: “It is not believed outside of Turkey. It is also a blow to the credibility of Turkey. It is difficult to take a state seriously that fabricates this sort of nonsense.”
“Ankara does not understand this: If you fabricate evidence, no one will believe you when you have serious demands [as in the case of the extradition of Fethullah Gülen]. They will say somebody who fabricated this must have fabricated other things as well.”
The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a detention warrant for Barkey on suspicion of being behind the Gezi protests of 2013, the corruption operations of Dec. 17-25 in 2013 and a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, the pro-government Star daily reported on Saturday.
According to the report the detention warrant for Barkey was issued as part of an investigation that includes businessman and civil activist Osman Kavala and US Consulate General employee Metin Topuz. Kavala and Topuz were arrested last month for “attempting to abolish the constitutional order and attempting to remove the government of the Turkish Republic.”
According to Barkey, Topuz and Hamza Uluçay, a translator for the US Consulate in Adana who was arrested in February, have been taken hostage by Turkey: “Topuz and Uluçay are now hostages against [Turkish Iranian gold trader Reza] Zarrab and Gülen. They think the US will sit at the negotiating table. They are mistaken. What they are doing is increasing the anger of everyone here [in the US].”
Based on the investigation Star claimed that Barkey is a CIA agent and had met with suspects in all the murky events in Turkey and abroad. Barkey has met many times with Kavala, but Kavala failed to remember and declined to confirm the meetings.
Barkey said Kavala was not invited to the Büyükada meeting, that he had come across him at the Karaköy Lokantası (restaurant) on July 18 and spoke to him for a few minutes. That is the reason Kavala is on the agenda, he said.
“According to the investigation Henri Barkey organized and coordinated the coup attempt during a meeting on Istanbul’s Büyükada on 15-16 July, 2016,” the Star report said.
“Barkey left a bell reading ‘Pennsylvania’ with the hotel receptionist when he left Büyükada hotel on July 17.”
The American academic also denied leaving a bell at the hotel reception.
In February, Barkey said that many generals purged by the Turkish government are pro-NATO and pro-American, saying this could create a shift in Turkey-NATO relations.
In April, the İstanbul chief public prosecutor launched an investigation into 17 prominent US figures including Senator Chuck Schumer, former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, former CIA Director John Brenan and Barkey for alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement.
According to reports, the investigation is based on allegations of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” and “attempting to overthrow the government and Parliament.”
The prosecutor has started to investigate the details of a meeting of some of the “suspects” on İstanbul’s Büyükada on July 15 and in Karaköy on July 17, 2016, the reports said.
Star’s story came two days after Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım met with US Vice President Mike Pence in Washington.
According to a White House readout of the meeting, Pence expressed “deep concern” over the arrest of American citizens, local staff of US missions in Turkey and hundreds of journalists and members of civil society under a state of emergency that was declared following a failed coup on July 15, 2016, urging transparency and due process in the resolution of their cases.
Pastor Andrew Brunson, another American citizen who has been in custody since October for alleged links to the Gülen movement, was charged with acquiring secret political and military information, attempting to destroy constitutional order and overthrow the Turkish Parliament.
Erdoğan also accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, 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.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. 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.
The government has seized to at least 1,068 companies and 4,888 properties as part of a witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement.