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Turkish pilot who escorted Erdoğan’s plane on coup night arrested over Gülen links

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Yunus Poyraz (29), a pilot who escorted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s plane on the night of a coup attempt in 2016, was arrested along with his pilot brother by a Turkish court as part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to a report by the pro-government Sabah daily on Thursday, twin brothers Yunus Poyraz and Emre Poyraz, who served in the Tigers of the Turkish Air Force’s 192 Filo (SQN) from Balikesir under NATO command, were arrested as part of investigations in İzmir and Konya provinces. Yunus Poyraz was reportedly assigned to escort Erdoğan’s plane in an F-16 following the abortive coup.

The report claimed that Capt. İbrahim Poyraz, the elder brother of the twins and also a fighter jet pilot, was charged with alleged involvement in the coup attempt. He was also accused of alleged participation in a coup meeting at the Air Forces War Academy and his alleged role in the holding of military officers on the night of the coup.

Since the ByLock mobile phone messaging app could not be found on the mobile phones of the twins, they have been accused of affiliation with the Gülen movement in the Turkish military.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the coup attempt.

President Erdoğan launched a crackdown against the movement after accusing them of orchestrating the failed putsch, even though the movement strongly denies any involvement. Since then some 400,000 people have been investigated for suspected Gülen links.

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