Turkey names 'second mastermind' of failed July 15 coup

Turkey names 'second mastermind' of failed July 15 coup
Authorities say Kemal Batmaz, formerly director of one of Turkey's biggest paper producers, visited Fetullah Gulen shortly before the coup attempt and was at the Akinci airbase on July 15.
2 min read
03 November, 2016
Suspected coup plotters are arrested outside the Akinci airbase on July 16 [Getty]

The Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday identified Kemal Batmaz, as the second-most senior figure, based in Turkey, behind the attempt to overthrow the Turkish government on July 15.

Batmaz, a former director of Kaynak Paper Inc. (Turkish: Kaynak Kağıt A.Ş.), a leading company within the paper sector in Turkey, was arrested shortly after July 15. He remains in police custody.

Batmaz was allegedly spotted along with Adil Oksuz, an assistant theology professor at Sakarya University said to be the coup’s main leader in Turkey, at Ataturk International Airport en route to America, allegedly to visit Fetullah Gulen, a matter of days before the failed coup. On the night of the 15 July itself Batmaz is said to have once again been spotted with Oksuz at the Akinci air base. Akinci, which is set to be shut down, functioned as a headquarters for coup plotters.

Another figure, Harun Binis, a former member of Turkey’s Information and Communications Technology Authority which regulates Turkey’s telecoms sector, has been identified by Turkish authorities as another prominent coup supporter also present at Akinci on July 15. Binis is also in police custody having been arrested shortly after the failed coup attempt.

All three men -- Oksuz, Batmuz, and Binis – have claimed that they were in the vicinity of the Akinci airbase on July 15 in order to look at land they were considering buying, according to the state-run Anadolu News Agency. Of the three, only Oksuz remains at large.

The former assistant theology professor was briefly interviewed at Akinci airbase on July 15 before being released. The Turkish government has issued a reward totalling as much as 4 million Turkish lira ($1.3 million) for information that could lead to his arrest. In total, Turkish authorities have identified 37 individuals wanted in connection with the failed coup attempt who remain at large.

Turkey suspects exiled US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen of being the mastermind of the failed July 15 coup and have requested his extradition, a request that Washington has denied.

Since July 15 Turkey has arrested thousands of former civil servants, army and police officials, and journalists suspected of Gulenist links. These crackdowns have drawn criticism from rights groups who fear that the imposition of emergency laws is eroding civil liberties and freedom of expression in Turkey.