Probe launched into death of former British military officer
The office of Istanbul’s governor said it had commenced a comprehensive investigation regarding the death of James Gustaf Edward Le Mesurier, a former British military intelligence officer who was also co-founder of a Syrian civil defense group known as the White Helmets.
The body of former MI6 officer was found in Beyoğlu district on Nov. 11 by passersby who were going to mosque for the morning prayer, according to the statement issued by the governor's office.
The police and paramedics arrived at the scene soon after they got the call and initially found nothing in his possession to identify the man who was later found to be Le Mesurier.
While the police suspect the cause of death was falling from height, the investigation is underway.
Le Mesurier's wife said in her statement that her husband had recently started to take sleeping pills and psychiatric medications due to stress disorder and the incident took place early in the morning while she was sleeping.
“I was awake with my husband until about 4:00 am. Together we took sleeping pills. I woke up when the door was knocked on the outside around 05:30 – 06:00 am. When I didn't see my husband, I looked through the window on the third floor and saw him lying on the floor,” she said.
'Too much security for an aid organization'
Selman Arslan, who worked as a take-out employee in Le Mesurier's neighborhood, told Hürriyet daily that 20-25 people used to work in the building including locals.
“It was too much security for an aid organization, but thanks to the locals, we used to work with them, we used to take [food] orders. But they would never talk to us. They would never open the door without seeing who we were from the camera at the entrance. Also there's another door after you open the door. That door works only with fingerprints,” he said.
“I never knew that the woman was the wife of the deceased. I always saw him alone,” he added.
A waiter who works in a cafe right next to the office said that the workplace is extremely secure and it is not possible for an outsider to get in.
Fırat Bulut, a street worker who claims that Le Mesurier was his customer, told Milliyet daily that there were some noises heard in the middle of night.
“We came to our work at 09:00 am. When we researched what happened, we found out that there were some events that occurred in the night. He was our customer too. [We learned that] noises started at 03:00, and the dead body was found at 05:30 in the morning. At night some arguments were heard. And he was arguing with a woman,” Bulut said.
The White Helmets, known officially as Syria Civil Defence, have been credited with saving thousands of people in rebel-held areas during years of bombing by Syrian government and Russian forces in the country’s civil war.
On Nov. 8, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova accused Le Mesurier of being a spy.
"The White Helmets' co-founder, James Le Mesurier, is a former agent of Britain's MI6, who has been spotted all around the world, including in the Balkans and the Middle East. His connections to terrorist groups were reported back during his mission in Kosovo," she said.
Meanwhile, a senior British parliamentarian said he was “deeply concerned” to hear about the death of a former intelligence officer in Istanbul.
The remarks by Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the U.K.'s House of Commons, came a day after former MI6 officer was found dead.
“His heroic work in defense of human rights in Syria has sadly made him many enemies, and Russian officials have frequently accused him of links to terrorist organisations,” Tugendhat was quoted by the Financial Times as saying.
He added that U.K. officials should be part of any investigation, according to the British daily.