Turkey seeks arrest of Fethullah Gülen over Russian Ambassador Karlov’s murder
A Turkish court has issued arrest warrants for Fethullah Gülen and seven other suspects for their alleged involvement in the killing of former Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on April 2.
On Dec. 19, 2016, an off-duty police officer fatally shot Karlov at a photo exhibition in Ankara. The officer, Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, was later shot dead by police.
Gülen and the other seven suspects, including police officer-turned-columnist Emre Uslu, face charges of attempting to “destroy the constitutional order” and “meditated murder,” the agency’s report read.
Turkish authorities have alleged that Karlov’s killer had links to the Gülen movement, referred to by the Turkish authorities as the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), widely believed to have orchestrated the July 2016 coup attempt that left 250 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured.
Turkey says Karlov’s assassination was aimed at derailing warming relations between Turkey and Russia.
As part of Turkey and Russia’s joint investigation ongoing since last year, Turkish intelligence services initially completed their examination of a hard disk of Altıntaş’s laptop but were unable to retrieve the erased documents.
The Russian intelligence services then requested to take the hard disk to Russia, promising “an alternative way” to examine the hard drive.
The Russian intelligence services say they were able to locate two deleted files on the drive including the keywords “Fethullah Gülen” and 690 deleted files including the keyword “Hizmet,” a word that means “service” in Turkish and is used by Gülen sympathizers.
Reports on Dec. 18, 2017 stated that social media posts and e-mails sent by Altıntaş were determined to have been deleted with the help of a virtual computer.
According to findings in the investigation, members linked to the Gülen network managed to connect to Altıntaş’s mobile phone via VPN around the time of the assassination, deleting his Gmail and Facebook conversations.
As a part of investigations ongoing since last year, a total of 33 suspects have testified, and seven people, including two police officers and Guru Media Broadcast Group Chairman Hayreddin Aydınbaş, were previously arrested in connection to the assassination.
A former police officer, Ramazan Yücel, who was dismissed from his post over alleged links to the Gülen network, was arrested on Dec. 14, 2017 in connection to Karlov’s killing, on charges of “participating in premeditated murder.”