Turkish government ‘not satisfied’ by US statement on phone call to key coup figure
ANKARATurkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ have voiced their dissatisfaction with a statement released by the U.S. Embassy to Turkey regarding a phone call to one of the key figures of the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt, six days after the thwarted uprising.
The embassy in Ankara said the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul called Adil Öksüz on July 21 after Turkish police contacted the U.S. mission in Turkey the same day for help in preventing him leaving the country.
According to an indictment, a number belonging to the U.S. consulate attempted to call Öksüz, prompting U.S. officials in Ankara to say on March 29 that it called Öksüz to tell him his visa to the United States had been canceled.
Yıldırım, Çavuşoğlu and Bozdağ said the statement lacked explanation.
“That is the official statement, if you buy it,” Yıldırım told the private broadcaster NTV late on March 29, adding that “a more satisfactory response is needed.”
“The official statement is ‘We called him to cancel his visa. He was one of the perpetrators of July 15, so we showed sensitivity, acted responsibly against the Turkish Republic and immediately canceled his visa.’ We need to see if there are other things. One cannot refrain from asking ‘Everything was done with and that was left?’ We expect a more satisfactory response,” he also said.
Öksüz was caught while trying to escape from the Akıncı Air Base in Ankara on the morning of July 16, 2016, but he was released a short while later by a court in the Sincan district. He has been at large since then.
It was previously revealed that Öksüz met high-level commanders in Ankara while preparing for the coup, and it has also been claimed that Öksüz met U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen to show him plans for the putsch.
Earlier reports said Öksüz was the “Air Force imam” of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
“Imam,” which traditionally refers to a religious public worker, is a term used by the Gülenist organization to mark local leadership.
The U.S. has repeatedly refuted some Turkish media reports and accusations that it was involved in or had any advance knowledge of the coup attempt in Turkey.
Çavuşoğlu, meanwhile, said Turkish authorities want to believe the U.S. statement but need to see concrete details regarding the incident.
“The U.S. has released a statement. We, of course, want to believe such a statement and don’t want to search for anything behind it, but we want to see the concrete details of this issue,” Çavuşoğlu said during a joint press conference with his U.S. counterpart, Rex Tillerson, on March 30 in Ankara.
Tillerson also commented on the issue, saying the phone call is “part of a normal procedure.”
Elsewhere, Bozdağ said many Gülenists are in the U.S. and that they all had visas.
“The U.S. needs to cancel those visas. In order for the statement by the U.S. to be accepted as a concrete indicator of genuine cooperation, those visas need to be revoked,” Bozdağ told private broadcaster A Haber on March 30, adding that “the founder and manager of the terrorist organization resides in Pennsylvania.”
“He continues his terror activities without anyone preventing him. The Turkish president, prime minister, foreign minister, justice minister, all officials and the Turkish state and the people are expecting sensitivity and genuine cooperation from the U.S. on this issue, but there is no sensitivity. There is no genuine cooperation. High-level support is shown to FETÖ. That’s why we don’t see sincerity here. We see a calculation,” he also said.
Noting that the U.S. should temporarily arrest Gülen and extradite all Gülenists, Bozdağ said the phone call raised many questions and that the statement by the U.S. did not provide an answer.
Bozdağ also commented on the search to apprehend Öksüz.
“I don’t think that the attempt to take Öksüz out of Turkey was successful, they failed. In my opinion, he is being hidden by someone in Turkey. Could FETÖ have executed Öksüz? Of course, we don’t know that. We don’t have anything in our hands. Öksüz is one of the names who will answer all questions regarding the coup attempt and will shed light on many dark issues. The possibility of him being caught poses a threat to the coup plotters. My personal opinion is that he is being hidden by someone in Turkey and that he has not been executed,” he said.