Turkish military officer sent to US for F-35 project charged as FETÖ member: Report
A number of Turkish Air Force pilots and non-commissioned officers who were tasked in missions abroad following the July 2016 coup attempt, including the F-35 project in the United States, have been charged as members of the Fetullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), the pro-government Sabah newspaper reported on May 31.
Sabah reported that more than 100 pilots and non-commissioned officers of the Turkish Air Force “used” their tasks abroad, as well as their days off, to flee Turkey amid ongoing investigations into suspected members of the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. The Gülen network is a former close ally of the government but is now its enemy and is widely believed to have carried the July 2016 coup attempt.
The pilots and officers who “fled” Turkey reportedly included those who were tasked in Turkey’s missions in Germany, France, Greece and the U.S. They were given these posts abroad after the coup attempt and the list reportedly includes majors and captains, as well as a non-commissioned officer, who were given tasks in the U.S. as part of the F-35 project.
The report come as a U.S. Senate panel voted in favor of a bill that calls on Washington to restrict the delivery of Joint Strike Fighters, F-35s, to Turkey in reaction to the continued detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson on terror charges and the procurement of S-400 air defense systems from Russia.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had voiced confidence on May 30 that the U.S. administration will not block the delivery of the F-35s to Turkey despite measures being discussed in the U.S. Congress.
Meanwhile, prosecutors in Turkey’s capital Ankara have issued detention warrants for 14 Health Ministry personnel allegedly linked to FETÖ, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on May 31.
According to the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office, four of the 14 suspects are currently ministry personnel, while eight are former, and two are retired.
Seven out of the 14 suspects have been detained, while the search for the others continues.
The detention warrants were issued over suspected inks to FETÖ, under an investigation being carried out by the Terror Crimes Investigation Bureau.