One of the top suspects in the critical trial on events at the Akıncı Air Base, considered the command center of Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt, has denied any links to the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
“I have never been a follower of [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] FETÖ,” former Maj. Gen. Mehmet Dişli told the Ankara
4th High Criminal Court on Aug. 11, also denying accusations that he held Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar at gunpoint during the coup attempt.
A brother of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker Şaban Dişli, Mehmet Dişli is accused of ordering Akar to sign the coup declaration and read it out to the public, holding him at gunpoint and escorting him to Akıncı Air Base from General Staff Headquarters and then to Çankaya Palace.
“I faced the same conditions as Gen. Akar and was forced to go to Akıncı Air Base at gunpoint. I fulfilled the duties of a secretariat for Chief of General Staff. I never played an intermediary role or put pressure on the chief of general staff to participate in the coup attempt,” Dişli said in his defense.
All force commanders were taken hostage by their secretaries, aides and guards on the night of the coup attempt.
In his witness testimony, Akar had stated that Dişli entered his office on the night of July 15, 2016 and told him about the coup attempt.
“I saw Maj. Gen. Mehmet Dişli entering my office. He sat on the chair next to me and said ‘My commander, the operation has begun, we will take everybody, all the brigades and troops are on their way. You will see soon,’” Akar said in his initial testimony in July 2016.
Dişli said in his statement that Akar “might have misunderstood him.”
“Along with the haze of the events from Akıncı to Çankaya, he might have misunderstood me. I believe he will assess [my involvement] in a more healthy manner in some time,” Dişli said.
“I never have said any words in a manner of persuasion,” he added.
Dişli also changed his initial statement that he gave to prosecutors in his defense.
He stated in his previous statement that he had heard former Gen. Hakan Evrim telling Gen. Akar that he might make Akar “speak to our leader Fethullah Gülen.”
Changing his initial statement, Dişli said he did not hear such a statement.
He also denied hearing Rear Adm. Ömer Faruk Harmancık trying to persuade Gen. Akar to read the coup declaration out in public.