By Esra Kaymak Avci
In order to aid Turkish authorities’ probe of the coup attempt of July 15, 2016, the U.S. consulate in Istanbul called one of the chief suspects in the coup bid less than a week later, the U.S. embassy in Ankara said Wednesday.
"As a direct result of close U.S.-Turkish law enforcement cooperation, a call from the U.S. Consulate General Istanbul to a phone belonging to Adil Oksuz on July 21, 2016 did occur," the embassy said in a written statement.
The statement added that the Turkish National Police called the consulate on July 21 "to request assistance in preventing Adil Oksuz from fleeing Turkey."
It said that towards that end, the U.S. then revoked his visa and called him to inform of the cancellation, as required by U.S. law.
"Far from being suspicious, the call from the Consulate General illustrates the close U.S.- Turkish law enforcement cooperation following the coup attempt," the statement concluded.
Though the call was placed to Oksuz’s number, it is not clear if anyone answered.
The U.S. statement comes after judicial officials at the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, said earlier Wednesday that Oksuz, who remains on the run, was contacted at 10.22 a.m. local time (0722GMT) on July 21 by the U.S.-registered number.
Turkish sources have not confirmed that the consulate made the call in order to aid Turkish efforts to find those responsible for the coup attempt.
Central coup suspect
Oksuz is said to be a key figure in the July 15 coup attempt and a leading member of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
A former assistant professor at Sakarya University in northwest Turkey, he was said to be FETO’s so-called “imam” to members within the Turkish Air Force. Oksuz was arrested at Akinci Airbase -- the headquarters of the plotters, later renamed Murted Airbase -- the day after the coup but was later released.
He remains at large.
The failed coup left 249 people martyred and around 2,200 injured.
Ankara has accused FETO, led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, of orchestrating the coup bid through supporters in the military, police, and wider state apparatus.
Gulen has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999 and has been the subject of repeated extradition requests by Turkey.
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due to arrive in Ankara for talks with senior Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.