According to the testimony of Major Adnan Arıkan, a witness who spoke to the Nordic Monitor and also the person who was assigned to provide security for Akar when he flew by helicopter from General Staff headquarters to Akıncı Air Base, allegedly used by the plotters as a command post:
“The commander [Akar] said in later statements that he was held hostage, but the scene [I witnessed] was nothing like the statements. Even when leaving the General Staff from Gate 1A [the entry gate for top commanders], everyone followed him: When he slowed down, everyone slowed down; when he stopped, everyone stopped; and when he moved on, everyone followed suit. He continued to give orders,” Arıkan explained of what he saw while waiting in the helicopter that had landed in the courtyard to pick Akar up.
The major was ordered by his commanding officer, Colonel Fırat Alakuş, who was in charge of the special forces team at the General Staff, to secure the helicopter after its landing and accompany the chief of general staff, who would be taken to a secure location.
The commander, who was supposedly being held hostage at that point, asked for his cap. His personal guard, dressed in civilian clothes, hurriedly carried out his order. The cap was delivered to him. Is it logical for a man who feels threatened with his life to act like this and ask for his cap?” Arıkan testified. Camera footage also indicated that Akar was gesturing to his bag.
“The fact that he kept giving orders and that his orders were being executed is the most obvious indication that he continued to function as the chief of general staff,” the major added.
CCTV security camera footage showed that Akar was guarded by the special forces, whose guns were pointed at the ground, not at the general. He was not handcuffed, and there was no indication that he was in fact a hostage. A better still shot taken inside the building before Akar exited from Gate 1A also showed that he was a free man, appeared to be in charge and that special forces troops were providing security for him.
The evidence both in terms of CCTV camera footage and multiple witness statements contradicted the statement that Akar gave to the prosecutor at General Staff headquarters on July 18, 2016 as a plaintiff.
“It was noteworthy that a soldier was walking backwards with an automatic weapon, the barrel of which was pointed at me. … When they brought me outside, a helicopter was waiting at the place where the Atatürk statue was located. They put me in the helicopter. The helicopter took off. They didn’t say where we were going. I didn’t ask. The gun barrels of the armed soldiers in the helicopter were pointed at me.”
-Former Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar’s statement’s on his claim of abduction at gunpoint
According to Arıkan, who accompanied the commander on the short trip to Akıncı Air Base, there was nothing unusual during the flight. He rejected Akar’s statement, which claimed that guns were pointed at him during the flight.
“Once the helicopter is boarded, the guns are always pointed at the floor; otherwise, critical parts of the helicopter like the engine and propellers could get damaged and cause it to crash if guns are accidentally discharged in any other direction,” the major explained. “Even if you don’t hold it like that [pointing in any direction other than at the floor], you get warned by the technician,” he added.
Arıkan recalled how he was observing the chief of general staff’s behavior in the chopper and his interactions with Major General Mehmet Dişli, who was head of the General Staff Strategy Department and was later branded as a plotter, and found nothing out of the ordinary. “No action that might be construed as disrespectful, as an assault or a threat, was made. We were assigned as the commander’s protective detail, and that why we got on board,” Arıkan noted.
He further testified that if Akar had ordered the pilot to land the helicopter anywhere he wanted, the pilot would have done so as he was under his command. Fifteen to 20 minutes later, the pilot landed the helicopter at Akıncı Air Base, where Akar was greeted by base personnel and taken to the command center. Again, there was no unusual activity at the base, and Akar was greeted as usual, and there was no indication whatsoever that he was being held hostage.
The chopper technician, Engin Göz, who accompanied Akar during the flight, also testified that Akar was a free man, not a hostage, before he got aboard the helicopter, during the flight and upon landing.
Government rejects trying Hulusi
Akar has never testified in court and never allowed himself to be cross-examined by defense lawyers in the case, despite the fact that he was in charge of the Turkish military on July 15 and did not take action to prevent the mobilization of some military units.
Multiple motions filed by defense lawyers in dozens of coup cases asking the court to order him to appear on the stand for questioning were rejected by judges under government orders. Akar also declined to appear before the parliamentary committee that investigated the July 15 events. Instead, he sent a written statement, prompting an outcry from opposition lawmakers.
The video footage from Akıncı Air Base that was incorporated into the case file corroborated major Arıkan’s witness account. New footage indicates that Akar left the base with Maj. Gen. Dişli and landed at the Çankaya palace in Ankara in a helicopter. In the video, Akar appeared unharmed and in control of the situation.
According to the indictment, the helicopter took off from General Staff headquarters at 23:03 piloted by Lt. Col. Halil Gül, who said he was ordered to pick Akar up by the Operations Center of the General Staff. Gül was on the night shift for an emergency response team located at the Land Forces Aviation Command in Ankara’s Güvercinlik neighborhood. In the statement he gave to the police on July 17, 2016 he confirmed what Arıkan said.
“I landed at [the courtyard of] the general staff in the helicopter. The chief of general staff, Hulusi Akar, accompanied by some people, walked towards the helicopter with his eyes open and hands free. … I did not see men pointing a gun at the chief of general staff. He was not handcuffed,” Gül said, adding, “I thought I was saving the chief of general staff from something [bad].”
-The statement of Halil Gül, the pilot of the Sikorsky helicopter that transported the chief of general staff to a secure location, refuted the abduction and hostage claims
The recorded conversations between the pilot and the tower during the flight, submitted later to the court, verified the account of Gül, who was heard telling the tower, “I saved the commander.” Both the tower at the Güvercinlik base where the pilot took off to pick up Akar and the tower at the destination, Akıncı Air Base, recorded this message of the pilot.
The records also showed that Gül made a request from the tower at Akıncı to make preparations for a VIP greeting for Akar, another indication that he was not a hostage.
Gül was piloting a Sikorsky helicopter and was the team commander of pilots at the Land Forces Aviation Command. He was ordered to transport the top commander to a secure location and denied any involvement in the coup attempt.
Very Important Plotter
At a May 25, 2017 hearing at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court, Gül was asked if he had heard any quarrels or arguments in the cabin when he picked up Akar. “I did not hear any shouting inside. I would just say that normally there was a radio in the back for talking to me. He [Akar] could have turned it on and spoken to me. I didn’t notice any shouting or distress in back,” Gül testified.
When the chopper landed at Akıncı, a VIP vehicle was ready to transport Akar, Dişli and Akar’s personal bodyguard to the command post, while the special forces team got in another car that followed. Multiple witness statements and base CCTV camera footage confirmed that Akar was in charge, not a hostage, and was free to do as he pleased. All the officers at the base saluted him as he was making his way to the command quarters.
As he entered the command office, the base commander, Maj. Gen. Kubilay Selçuk, greeted and saluted him. Akar took a seat, ordered a cup of tea and asked the staff to turn on the TV. He told the staff to make a call to his wife to tell her that he had more work to do and that there was no reason for her to worry about him being late. All officers entering and exiting the room saluted Gen. Akar in line with the military code of conduct, according to multiple witness statements. Akar spent eight hours and 35 minutes at the base before he decided to get on the chopper and go to the Prime Ministry office.
Video footage shot from outside the General Staff showed many people gathered, chanting Allah Akbar, making fascist Gray Wolf hand gestures and booing as the Sikorsky helicopter was landing and taking off from the headquarters courtyard.
Many of Akar’s other claims in his statements that were considered by the prosecutor to be crucial evidence against the alleged putschists were found to be contradictory to the evidence uncovered by the defense lawyers during the trial hearings. Yet, Akar never bothered to explain the inconsistencies in his statements, which lent further credence to the claims that the failed coup attempt was in fact a false flag operation, of which he was a part.
CCTV footage that shows Hulusi Akar boarding the chopper as free man, not a hostage:
Video showing the landing and taking off of a helicopter at General Staff headquarters while a crowd outside was cheering and booing.