Civilian coup suspect: I was at the air base for happy hour
A key suspect in Turkey’s critical July 2016 coup attempt case, trying 486 suspects over events at the Akıncı Air Base, has denied all allegations, arguing that he was at the base on the night of the coup attempt to attend “happy hour.”
“I haven’t even seen the place where the coup attempt took place,” Hakan Çiçek, a businessman accused of being an intermediary between Gülenist leaders and staff officers in the army,” said during yesterday’s hearing.
“I saw planes taking off and I was scared. I was invited to the base by a commander to attend ahppy hour,” he said.
Çiçek condemned the coup plotters and declared his loyalty to the government.
“I believe the disgraceful July 15 coup attempt was a treacherous attempt committed against our country. I condemn everybody who participated in this attempt,” Çiçek told the court.
“I genuinely believe that this attempt was stopped by our honorable president’s strong stance and the Turkish nation’s standing against the tanks,” he said, claiming that he is “not a suspect of the coup attempt but a victim of it.”
Çiçek is accused of having contact with alleged members of Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), of travelling to the U.S. in order to connect with U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is accused of masterminding the coup attempt, and of being in touch with army officers to transfer instructions to plot the coup.
“I don’t even know most of the 11 people mentioned in the indictment,” he said, denying that any of his contacts had the “purpose of coup plotting.”
He said that one of the SMSs included in the indictment as evidence was sent by former lawmaker and imprisoned suspect of FETÖ case, İlhan İşbilen. Denying that the two were close acquaintances, Çiçek said İşbilen had only gone to one of his shops to purchase glasses. He said he owned eight different stores at that time and his phone was used for business purposes only.
He also said all his phone conversations with Kudret Ünal, the doctor of Fethullah Gülen; İsmail Cingöz, the head of closed humanitarian aid organization Kimse Yok Mu; Süleyman Uysal, considered to be one of the leaders of FETÖ; Hidayet Karaca, the former head of pro-Gülen Samanyalu Media Group; and Naci Tosun, the former CEO of Kaynak Holding, were only for business purposes.
He claimed that he had no knowledge of the WhatsApp group in which he 46 other people, including former military officer Muzaffer Düzenli, was a member.
Responding to allegations that he went to visit Gülen in Pennsylvania during his travels to the U.S., Çiçek said he was in the U.S. in relation to his children’s education and his marble commercial initiative.
He also denied knowing Adil Öksüz, a runaway suspect of the case who is considered to be the civilian leader of the Gülenist movement in the Air Force, as well as meeting with him in Ankara and reporting the meetings to Gülen.
“Adil Öksüz was in the U.S. for four days on March 17-21, 2016. I was there for 43 days, during which I never went to Pennsylvania. I never saw the leader of FETÖ,” he said referring to Öksüz as a “fugitive.”
“I know neither Öksüz nor the leader of FETÖ,” Çiçek said.
“In six of those 12 preparatory meetings, I was abroad. [The indictment claims that] I reported about a meeting I didn’t even attend to that man called Fethullah Gülen,” he added.