Was the tipoff about a coup or a kidnapping?
The stances of Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan on the night of the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 were the hottest debate last week. Several assumptions and theories in these debates focused on the attitudes of these two. The debates were triggered by the report issued last week by a parliamentary inquiry commission on July 15.
The first question can be whether the tipoff to MİT that afternoon was about a coup or only an attack. Both Fidan and Akar insist that the tipoff was not about a coup but about an attack against the MİT undersecretary.
On the other hand, helicopter pilot Major O.K. who tipped off MİT has a different statement. He answered the questions of Ankara Chief Prosecutor Harun Kodalak on August 11, 2016. In his six-page statement, O.K. said when he was given the assignment on July 15 of “fetching MİT undersecretary with helicopter,” he went to MİT to report the situation. “I told two people in MİT that ‘one helicopter will take Hakan Fidan. I don’t know what the other helicopter would do.’ They asked me what this could be. I told them it would be a major operation; even a coup activity. They asked me what the meaning of ‘taking Hakan Fidan’ was. I told them ‘since they said “a lot of blood will be shed” this activity is not a good-willed one.’ I remember very well I used the words: “there could be a coup d’état.’”
The reference of a “coup” in O.K.’s statement prompts the question “Well then, did MİT inform Akar that the major pronounced the probability of a coup?”
Let us take a look at the stream of events that day. O.K. went to the MİT headquarters in Yenimahalle at 2:20 p.m. The processing of this visit took some time and he was met at around 3:30 p.m. First, two interviewers met him. It was 4:20 p.m. when O.K.’s tipoff was communicated to Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler by Fidan. Thus, 50 minutes passed from the first interrogation to the warning of General Staff Headquarters. About one hour later, at around 5:30 p.m. MİT deputy undersecretary met Gen. Güler. At 6 p.m., this time, the undersecretary of MİT arrived and directly went to see Gen. Akar.
We understand from O.K.’s statement that two more people joined the interrogation at MİT. The fourth person persuaded O.K. to be wired and go back to the base. O.K. said he entered the base at 7 p.m. He must have left MİT headquarters at 6:30 or 6:40 p.m., meaning he was interrogated at least for three hours.
One option that comes to mind is that O.K. only mentioned the kidnapping of Fidan in the beginning of the meeting, he then said there was the possibility of a coup when the third and fourth interrogators joined. In this case, Fidan communicated the raw information to the General Staff Headquarters; and Gen. Akar decided on the course of action accordingly. However, in this option, O.K.’s later statements, including the possibility of a coup – logically – must absolutely have been communicated to the general staff headquarters with a slight delay because Fidan stayed with Gen. Akar until 10:20 p.m. on the evening of July 15.
There is an uncertainty here. The contradiction between O.K.’s statement and the joint testimonial of Akar and Fidan should definitely be clarified for the public.
The most delicate part of the matter is that Chief Prosecutor Kodalak has taken O.K.’s statement in August 2016 neither as a witness nor as a defendant. Apparently O.K. was under the protection of MİT at that time. Actually, there are only the minutes of an interview and this text is not included as evidence in the indictment regarding the Army Aviation Command where O.K. is stationed. Today, for his statement to be taken, it is only possible with the prime minister’s permission, because according to reports that have not been refuted, O.K. is now an official staff for MİT.
Unless the controversy here is solved, this question will probably keep on lingering. However, we can view the matter from another perspective: Was it really necessary for Major O.K. on July 15 to definitely say “a coup will take place?”