The talk with US officer on the morning of the coup attempt
“At around 8:00 a.m., we got on a vehicle with the commander and arrived in front of a building belonging to the Americans. The commander went inside and I stayed in the vehicle,” an eyewitness said.
The event took place on July 16, 2016, the morning after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. The person entering the building is the İncirlik Base Commander Brig. Gen. Bekir Ercan Van, who took part in the coup attempt by operating the departures of the tanker aircraft from the base at night.
The person waiting for him in the vehicle is the bodyguard and the personal driver of the brigadier general, the Specialist Sergeant Muhammet Emrah Kuzu.
While Kuzu is waiting in the vehicle, the telephone which Van had left for him begins to ring. The person calling on the phone is the İncirlik Base Operations Commander Staff Col. Erhan Gazioğlu. Gazioğlu participated in the coup attempt as the co-pilot of the tanker aircraft with call sign “ASENA 02.”
Kuzu explains the rest of the events this way: “Gazioğlu asked us where we were. I told him that I was in front of a building belonging to the Americans and that the commander was inside. Sometime later, Gazioğlu also entered the building. After staying inside for 15 minutes, he came out together with the commander. We got in the vehicle together with the commander and returned to the headquarters. The commander entered his room, and after coming out he told me, ‘Close and lock this space.’”
Van would be taken under arrest a little bit later by the military and police officers who came to the headquarters.
The Akıncı air base indictment also includes the coup operations managed at the İncirlik base during the coup attempt on July 15. An important event during this phase is that after the unsuccessful end of the coup attempt, Van went to the area where there were Americans and visited Col. John Walter.
The New York Times on July 17, 2016 reported that Van had sought political asylum in the United States but his request was rejected.
His contact with Walker, who is the top American military authority in İncirlik, is also mentioned in Van’s testimony. Van, concerning this subject, said, “I had a bilateral meeting with the American Col. Walker. We were talking about the problems and their solution methods as part of the coalition operation carried out in the base.”
That night, one of the people who saw Col. Walker is also Staff Lieut. Col. Halil İbrahim Özdemir. Özdemir, who was deployed on a temporary duty in İncirlik, talks about an event in his testimony that happened in front of the F-16 jets taking off from İncirlik with the intention to suppress the coup attempt at around 5:00 a.m. in the morning.
During the course of the night, following the Joint Air Operation Command’s (BHHM) reassertion against the coup attempt, the F-16 jets started taking off from the bases carrying out the instructions of the BHHM, in order to “prohibit” the F-16 jets that were on a coup attempt duty on Akıncı. The BHHM in Eskişehir asks the 152nd Fleet - which was on a temporary duty in İncirlik - to join the operation to stop the coup attempt.
Here, an interesting incident happens at the İncirlik base. Van, who attended the coup actively, turns up, while the F-16 jets operated by the anti-coup pilots get ready to depart to quell the jets that are being used by the coup-plotting pilots.
Özdemir explains that moment this way: “I went to the alarm reaction center in order to organize, inspect and be present there at around 5:00 a.m. while the aircraft in my fleet was getting prepared for the take off. As I was waiting, Van came next to me. He took me into his vehicle. At that moment, there was an American officer in uniform who I had never seen before but whom I presumed to be John Walker. He took us to the place where the aircraft was. He asked me for the name of the leader aircraft’s pilot. I told him that it was Lieut. Orhan Harman. He stepped out of the vehicle, went next to the aircraft and talked with the pilot.” According to the same statement, Van questioned Lieut. Harman, asking, “Why are you taking off, where are you heading to, what is your aim, are you going to shoot your friends?”
According to this detail, Van’s contact with the American officer on the coup attempt night was not limited to the meeting which they did just before Van was detained at 8:00 a.m. in the morning. According to this detail, Walker was in Van’s vehicle at the base, approximately three hours before this.
Walker transferred his duty at the İncirlik base to Officer David Eaglen with a ceremony organized on June 3, 2017.