Turkish comedian remanded in custody over FETO links
Atalay Demirci confesses to his links with Fetullah Terrorist Organization
By Sertac Bulur
Turkish actor and comedian Atalay Demirci has been remanded in custody for alleged links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) led by the U.S.-based preacher, Fetullah Gulen, the mastermind of the July 15 coup attempt.
Anti-terrorism police detained Demirci and sent him to Ankara court Saturday on charges of "being member of a terrorist organization."
Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office is probing the defeated coup, which martyred at least 239 and left nearly 2,200 injured.
Demirci, who was born in Ankara’s Nallihan district in 1976, confessed to his links with the group.
“I feel deep regret for every moment of my life that I spent with them [FETO]," he said in his testimony.
He claimed he did not betray his country and the nation. “I was with them and I worked with them as I thought they are a group that conducted charity work. Now, I can see that my thoughts were wrong."
After the coup attempt, Demirci had allegedly exchanged messages with Turkish-origin NBA player Enes Kanter, and former Turkish national football player and ex-deputy of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, Hakan Sukur, both of whom are known for supporting Fetullah Gulen. In his testimony, Demirci accepted the messages and said he had met with Kanter and Sukur occasionally.
Demirci also described how his popularity increased "thanks to people who served them [FETO]."
Between 2000 and 2007, when he made a program at the Turkey-based Dunya Radio, he was invited by FETO-linked schools and foundations for his shows. He also attended a number of programs abroad organized by FETO, he said.
He also said he was acquainted with Gulen. They met in person in 2005 in Atlanta in the U.S., where the comedian had gone to attend a festival.
About his properties, he said he owned a house worth 2 million Turkish liras (approx. $666,000), a luxury car and some land in Ankara's Golbasi district.
Currently, Demirci is behind bars in Ankara.
Turkey's government has repeatedly said the defeated attempt was organized by followers of Fetullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1997.
Gulen is also accused of running 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.
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