Coup-plotting general has financial links to Gülen network, Turkish crime board says
A report by Turkey’s Financial Crime Investigation Board (MASAK) listed former Brigadier General Gökhan Şahin Sönmezateş’s financial links with the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), Doğan News Agency reported on July 27.
Sönmezateş is one of the senior soldiers in a case into the assassination attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during last’s year coup attempt, but has denied allegations that he is a Gülenist in court hearings.
MASAK has said the former Air Force Brig. Gen. Sönmezateş, reported to own many real estate properties, previously transferred 5,000 Turkish Liras to Nurullah Albayrak, currently a fugitive abroad and one of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen’s most important lawyers.
Additionally, MASAK said that when the former general was the intelligence head deputy of the Air Force Command, it had made purchases worth millions of liras from FETÖ-linked companies.
The report said one of these companies was Milsoft Software Technologies Company where Kemal Batmaz was also working at the time—a civilian identified as the “second mastermind” in the coup attempt after Adil Öksüz, and who was caught at Akıncı Air Base, the coup’s main headquarters. Accordingly, Air Force intelligence transferred a total of 7,062,851 liras (about $2 million) to this company between April 2014 and July 2016 in return for the purchases made.
And just two days prior to the July 15, 2016 attempt, Air Force intelligence had transferred 1,712,109 liras (about $498,000) for another purchase from this same company.
Again, while Sönmezateş was serving in the intelligence department of the Air Force, this department transferred 6,363,092 liras (about $1.85 million) to Atesin Aviation Co., another FETÖ-linked company, between 2015 and 2016. The amount that was transferred to this company on June 15, 2016, exactly one month prior to the coup attempt, amounted to 2.1 million liras, whereas 1.5 million liras were wired to FETÖ-linked Süpercom Information Technologies Co. Çetin Tekdemir, one of the partners of this company, was determined to be an executive of the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), a Gülen-linked association.
The MASAK report also said one of the partners of Milsoft, Mehmet Sungur, and another key coup suspect, Adil Öksüz, currently on the run, were also financially related. Additionally, Sungur was reported to have transferred his income from FETÖ-linked companies to the bank accounts of the firms owned by the group in the U.S. The report also said Sungur had previously sold a real estate property belonging to Öksüz’s brother-in-law, Cemal Türk.
“I am not a FETÖ-linked individual. This outfit would not suit me. I am not a Gülenist. I am not a member of a cult. I have never knelt down before any imam, hodja, or anyone. I have not kissed their hands, and this is not in line with my character,” Sönmezateş had previously said in his court defense, in response to accusations of leading last year’s attack against the hotel in Marmaris in the Aegean province of Muğla, where Erdoğan was staying.
Some 47 suspects are being tried in the case into the assassination attempt against Erdoğan during last year’s failed coup. Forty-four suspects, mainly soldiers, are under arrest, while three others still on the run are being tried in absentia at the Muğla court.