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Retired admiral says 2016 coup attempt was necessary to purge dissidents

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A retired admiral has said a coup attempt that took place in Turkey in July 2016 was necessary to purge dissidents from the public service because it was impossible to get rid of them through legal means.

Retired admiral Türker Ertürk’s remarks came during a recent program on Sözcü TV as many government and military officials continue to reflect on the coup, the seventh anniversary of which was marked on July 15.

As the coup was unfolding, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the faith-based Gülen movement of masterminding it and launched a massive purge of its real and perceived followers in public service. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

“Why was there a need for such an attempt? Because there was a need for a period of unlawfulness in order to purge them [Gülenists and other dissidents]. It was impossible to take such a step under normal legal and democratic circumstances,” said Ertürk.

The failed coup killed 251 people and wounded more than a thousand others. The next morning, after announcing the coup had been put down, the Turkish government immediately started a wide-ranging purge of judges, police officers, teachers and other civil servants as well as military officers that ultimately led to the dismissal of more than 130,000 from their jobs, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 24,706 members of the armed forces. They were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

Ertürk also said if Erdoğan had wanted, he could have prevented the coup attempt from taking place but that he didn’t want to take any preventative measures so he could use it as a pretext to launch a purge.

“I could have prevented the coup attempt that day merely with an order. The coup attempt was not prevented, but it could have been,” said Ertürk.

The retired admiral also said he does not believe Erdoğan’s claim that he learned about the coup attempt from his brother-in-law. He said this would mean then-intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and then-chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar did not fulfill the requirements of their positions and inform Erdoğan about the coup preparations within the military.

He said since neither Fidan nor Akar had been the subjects of any investigation or fired from their jobs, this means they knew about the coup attempt and informed Erdoğan about it.

Despite the apparent failure of the Turkish intelligence authorities to gather intel about the coup plans, no intelligence official has resigned or been fired by the government. Likewise, Akar was not fired and became defense minister after retiring.

According to many, the coup attempt was a false flag aimed at entrenching the authoritarian rule of Erdoğan by rooting out dissidents and eliminating powerful actors such as the military in his desire for absolute power.

Meanwhile, Turkish Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç announced on Sunday that a total of 122,632 people have been jailed over alleged links to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, while 67,893 people are also under investigation over alleged Gülen links. The minister also said 15,539 people are still behind bars as part of the crackdown on the Gülen movement.

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