32,000 arrested in coup probe: Minister
ANKARAAround 32,000 people have been arrested as part of the investigation into the failed coup of July 15, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has announced, while hinting at the possibility that new courtrooms might be built in some places based on necessity.
“There are around 32,000 arrests. The process is still continuing. As there might be new arrests within the scope of evidence, information and findings in the investigation during this process, there might also be those among the arrested who will be released on probation or released directly. The number may increase and decrease since this is a dynamic process,” Bozdağ said in an interview with NTV on Sept. 28.
Legal proceedings have been launched against a total of 70,000 people as part of the probe, he said.
The minister also stated that there were shortcomings in terms of courtrooms in some places, signaling that new ones would be built if required. He said there was no such need in Istanbul but noted that the construction works of another in the Sincan district of Ankara was still ongoing.
Bozdağ also added that more than 1,500 guardians with suspected links to the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) had been suspended from their duties so far.
Meanwhile, Bozdağ said it was delusional to suggest that the Gülenist organization’s “imam of the Air Force” and a suspected leader of the plot, Adil Öksüz, who was detained after the coup attempt but subsequently released before disappearing, was a secret agent for the National Intelligence Organization (MİT).
“Adil Öksüz is not a MİT agent. That is a delusion and a piece of propaganda that FETÖ whispered into the ears of some, spreading it to the Turkish public through them. I am saying it very clearly that those who say that he had contact with MİT is either a poor person who does not know that he is being used by FETÖ or is allowing himself to be used by them wittingly,” he said.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu previously said he had received intelligence on Öksüz’s possible involvement with MİT.
“If Kılıçdaroğlu utters that claim, please, he should investigate the person who relayed that information to him. Our MİT undersecretary is here. He can summon him and meet him. He is the leader of the main opposition. He should call and meet him. He can get that information from the state. I am saying this clearly. I have no doubt that the person who brought that information to Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu is someone used by FETÖ,” Bozdağ said, adding that there were also question marks in his head about the release of Öksüz like anyone else.
In addition, asked whether there would be another delegation visit to the U.S. regarding the extradition request of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is suspected of leading the July 15 attempt, Bozdağ said they would apply to the U.S. Department of Justice for a new appointment this week to discuss the issue.
He also stated that U.S. experts would express their final evaluation on Ankara’s temporary arrest request of the 75-year-old preacher within a couple of days.
“They will take a position on our temporary arrest request and they said they would express the result within a coup of days,” Bozdağ said.