Turkey knows the whereabouts of a key suspect sought over his links to the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has said, while refraining from naming the precise location.
Adil Öksüz, one of the so-called “imams” of the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, which is widely believed to be the mastermind of the attempted takeover, has been on the run since the botched coup.
“Imam” is a term used by Gülenists to mark local leadership.
“We know where he is,” Soylu said, upon which he was asked whether he would confirm the reports regarding Öksüz being in Germany.
“We’ll keep that information to ourselves,” the minister said.
Öksüz was detained on the morning of July 16, 2016 near Akıncı Air Base, used as a headquarters by coup-plotters during the attempt, only to be released by Judge Çetin Sönmez on July 18, 2016, after which he went on the run.
He was reportedly spotted in Germany.
Turkey designated the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization with the name of Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
During the interview, Soylu also said that some 5,149 alleged users of ByLock, an encrypted messaging application that is said to have been used by Gülenists, were determined recently, with 1,387 of them working in the public sector.
Saying that the Gülen movement is “not only a terrorist organization, but also an intelligence one,” Soylu criticized the U.S. for not extraditing Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania.
“Don’t the U.S. know their [Gülenists’] illegal matters? Doesn’t Germany and Europe keep those that we’ve been seeking over their direct involvement in the coup attempt in Turkey? They do,” he said.
When asked about the reason for why people acquitted in court can’t return to their jobs, Soylu said, “We didn’t forget July 15.”
“Turkey was faced with the July 15 coup and terrorist act, so shouldn’t the state be cautious? I’m not perceiving all the issues from the perspective of the Constitutional Court,” he said.