May 30, 2017

Turkish Colonel Says His Testimony Taken Under Torture

A Turkish colonel whose testimony was key to support the government’s main argument that the failed military coup attempt was orchestrated by Gulenists now says he spoke under torture.

“I didn’t have a genuine statement [in that testimony]. I was totally destroyed. I was receiving IV fluids. They X-rayed my brain. I didn’t have a single genuine statement,” Col. Levent Turkkan said during a court hearing on Tuesday.

Few days after the military coup attempt last summer, Turkish state news agency Anadolu published the confession of Mr. Turkkan, aide-de-camp of Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar. Mr. Turkkan’s confession was considered to be the highest-level ‘evidence’ that Gulenists were behind the coup.

His testimony reinforced President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s primary argument and decorated major pro-government newspapers. Even mainstream newspaper Hurriyet wrote a long story on Mr. Turkkan’s testimony, ignoring the fact that his testimony was published alongside a photo in which he was seen tortured. The story was authored by Ismail Saymaz.

In the photo published by Anadolu, Mr. Turkkan was seen with bruises and injuries on his face, stomach, shoulder and hands. If these bruises and injuries happened while the police tried to take him into custody and that they are not from the torture, it seems that he should have been unable to write such a long testimony by his injured hands. His testimony, however, says that he asked for a pen and a paper and wrote the testimony while he was waiting in the police station.

The crux of Mr. Turkkan’s initial statement was centered on a fact that he was a Gulenist and that he was in contact with Gulenists during the planning and the execution of the coup attempt. According to Mr. Turkkan, he knew about the coup plot a day before, on July 14.

Mr. Turkkan’s revelation that he was tortured and that his testimony was fake dealt a blow to Mr. Erdogan’s narrative that the Gulenists staged the coup.

Published on The Globe Post, 23 May 2017, Tuesday