By Aylin Sirikli and Huseyin Gazi Kayki
Turkey's top general said Monday that on the night of the July 15 coup attempt, he was asked to speak on the phone with U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen, the accused mastermind of the coup attempt.
Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, testifying as a plaintiff to Ankara prosecutors, said while he was held hostage by pro-coup soldiers, Gen. Hakan Evrim, the commander of a main jet base, asked him to speak with Gulen.
"Hakan Evrim said they could put me on phone with Fetullah Gulen, who he described as their 'opinion leader'," Akar said. "But I refused the offer at once."
"I believe those coup-plotters are members of this organization [the Fetullah Terrorist Organization, or FETO]. I think they thought their organization would take a huge blow after our Supreme Military Council meeting in August -- which we prepared for studiously," Akar said. "This terror organization probably foresaw the outcome of the upcoming meeting and attempted a coup by bombing the parliament building and security offices, killing civilians, attacking their own brothers-in-arms and units with a ferocity and dishonor never seen before."
Akar blasted the coup attempt against the elected government as a "dark stain on Turkey's history," especially at time when the Turkish security forces are getting "successful results against the terrorist organization [PKK]."
"During the night of the attempted coup, I saw that the traitors were demoralized. First the video footage of surrendered traitors on the Bosphorus Bridge, and then our president's address to the crowd at Ataturk Airport destroyed the hopes of the coup-plotting traitors," he added.
In six pages of testimony, Akar stated that near 9.00 p.m. (1800GMT) on the failed coup night, Maj. Gen. Mehmet Disli entered his room and said something like, 'Sir, the operation has begun. We'll take everyone, the brigades and troops are on their way'."
"At first I couldn’t make any sense of what he said," Akar stated. "He might have said something about planes. But I understood that there was an operation which I can describe as an uprising. I yelled at him: 'What the hell are you talking about! Are you crazy, don't even think about it!'"
Turkey's top general also stated that he had warned Disli and the coup-plotters about the "path they were taking," and urged him to "end the attempt without causing any deaths and not involving anybody else.”
"I couldn’t convince them," he stated. "As he was exiting the room, I saw Lt. Serdar, Sgt. Abdullah, and Lt. Col. Levent [Turkkan]," then Akar’s aide-de-camp.
Akar said the three soldiers rushed to his room, held him down, and then partially strangled and handcuffed him.
After threatening to kill him, Akar continued, the soldiers took him to Akinci air jet base, northwest of Ankara, to force him to read and sign the coup manifesto.
Akar said he "never even touched" the manifesto which the coup soldiers wanted him to sign to topple Turkey’s democratically elected government.
"When they read their manifesto out to me, I listened cynically and without any interest," Akar said.
"Those traitors even called their junta attempt the 'Peace at Home Council,' they said nothing about who belongs to the council," he explained.
Other senior officers who refused to participate were taken hostage, including Akar, who was later rescued from the pro-coup soldiers.
Turkey's government has repeatedly said the deadly coup attempt on July 15, which martyred at least 246 people and injured more than 2,100 others, was organized by followers of Gulen.
Gulen is also accused of a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary, forming what is commonly known as the parallel state.