Technician in Erdoğan’s helicopter on coup night arrested over FETÖ suspicion
İsmail Saymaz - ISTANBUL
An aircraft technician who was on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s helicopter flight crew on the night of the coup attempt in 2016 was arrested on Nov. 20 over suspicion of using ByLock, the encrypted messaging application that is said to have been used by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization [FETÖ].
Tayyib Sina Doğan was a technician who was one of the three members of the helicopter crew that flew Erdoğan and his family to the Dalaman airport from Marmaris where they were on holiday that night. He was arrested over suspicion of downloading the ByLock application.
Doğan, who had joined Erdoğan’s aircraft team in September 2014 had been dismissed from his post by the state of emergency decree on Nov. 22, 2016 following the failed coup last year on July 15.
He was asked about a record indicating he had downloaded ByLock on his mobile phone on Sep. 5, 2014.
Doğan denied any link to FETÖ, who is considered to be behind the coup attempt.
“I have never downloaded that application. I think it was downloaded on my phone through other software. If it is detected that the ByLock content and username belong to me, I acknowledge any punishment,” he said.
He also said he was one of the president’s flight technicians that night and had actively acted against the initiatives of the putschists.
“If I were a member of a terrorist organization, I would not let the helicopter take off. I had the key and I have knowledge of the equipment,” said Doğan.
Erdoğan had flown to Istanbul after delivering a historic speech on CNN Türk via FaceTime, when he called on citizens to hit the streets against the coup soldiers.
Separately, arrest warrants have been issued for 17 former Prime Ministry staff over Gülen links.
The police sources said 14 of the suspects were detained in Ankara on Dec. 8.
The detentions came after warrants had been issued for 20 FETÖ-linked suspects, including three justice ministry’s employees, according to a statement issued by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Dozens of suspects have been detained across the country after Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office had issued arrest warrants for 56 suspects, who have been accused of using the ByLock mobile app.
Police teams conducted simultaneous operations in 19 provinces, including İzmir, Kayseri and Adıyaman, a source said on Dec. 8.
Meanwhile, sources said the suspect detained in an operation on 65 houses across Ankara earlier this week included senior figures of the network.
Earlier media reports said Salman Gülen, the nephew of Fethullah Gülen, was among those detained.
Sources said a suspect who was the Gülenists’ “imam” at the Turkish Naval Forces was also detained.