Kemal Batmaz, mastermind of July 15 coup bid, stayed as a guest in Gülen’s US residence, the document reveals
The document, which was sent by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to the Turkish General Directorate of Security and delivered as evidence to the 17th High Criminal, and revealed that July 15 coup suspect Kemal Batmaz, one of the masterminds of the July 15 coup attempt, had stayed in FETO ringleader Fetullah Gulen's residence in the US province of Pennsylvania.
Recent evidence in the main trial over last year's defeated coup attempt in Turkey points to a key accused coup-plotter visiting the ringleader, Fetullah Gulen, at his U.S. home in early 2016.
Documentation submitted by the U.S. Homeland Security Department says that when questioned at the Newark, New Jersey airport on Jan. 1, 2016, Kemal Batmaz said he would stay with Gulen, head of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), while in the U.S.
Batmaz is an accused "imam" of FETO, the group that orchestrated the defeated coup in Turkey of July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
The evidence was sent on Sept. 8 to the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court, where 486 defendants are being tried over their alleged role in the coup at Akinci Air Base north of the capital Ankara, now known as Murted Air Base, which was used as a headquarters for the coup attempt on July 15.
They face charges including membership in a terrorist organization, attempting to assassinate the president, and trying to overthrow the parliament.
'HE WILL STAY WITH GULEN IN PENNSYLVANIA'
The U.S. evidence directly contradicts Batmaz's previous testimony when asked whether he had met with Fetullah Gulen and had orders to carry out the coup bid confirmed.
Batmaz told prosecutors: "I have neither been to Pennsylvania, nor have I had anything confirmed, nor have I taken any orders on this matter. I have not participated in meetings that are said to have taken place".
He said he only knew Gulen from media accounts and had never met him.
But according to records of an interview with Batmaz by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a division of the Homeland Security Department: "On January 1, 2016 the subject [Batmaz] was referred for a secondary interview, as the officer felt he was coming too many times to the US, possibly circumventing the need for an immigration visa".
"The subject was also bringing $7,000 USD into the USA, which he states is for his personal use," added the document.
The interview records dramatically contradict his claim to have never met Gulen, saying: "He [Batmaz] will stay the first night at Riviera Hotel: 169 Clinton Ave Newark NJ. The rest of the time he will stay with Imam Muhammed Fetullah Gulen in Pennsylvania. Subject stated his friend, Ismail Celik, will pick him up tonight and take him to his hotel. He stated his other friend, Yavuz Ulusoy, will take him to the home of Muhammed Fetullah Gulen".
Muhammed Fetullah Gulen is the full name of the FETO terrorist leader.
EVIDENCE OF FETO LINKS
Batmaz, a civilian accused of being one of the defeated coup leaders, was arrested at the base on the morning of July 16.
Batmaz and Adil Oksuz, another key accused coup-plotter, were reportedly caught on camera returning to Istanbul from the U.S. on July 13, 2016, two days before the attempted takeover.
Authorities say they had visited Gulen at his home in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania to discuss the plot.
Batmaz had denied these allegations as well, saying that their being at the airport that day was a simple coincidence.
When Batmaz was accused in court of commanding the 143rd fleet at the 4th Main Jet Base Akinci, he denied it, saying he was in the area to inspect land he was considering buying.
On a May 30 hearing in the case, former Gen. Hakan Evrim denied having "saluted" Batmaz at the air base, despite video footage showing otherwise.
The U.S. airport security evidence was also sent to the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court, where 221 suspects are being tried for alleged membership in the so-called "Peace at Home Council," a committee established by the coup-plotters to replace the government if the putsch had succeeded.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.