FETO's so-called civilian cleric, Kemal Batmaz, who is being accused of being one of the key names behind a coup attempt in Turkey last year, had denied being associated with network's leader Fetullah Gulen.

FETO suspect Kemal Batmaz. AA
FETO suspect Kemal Batmaz. AA (AA)

Evidence submitted in the main trial over last year’s coup attempt in Turkey points to a key accused coup-plotter visiting the ringleader, Fetullah Gulen, at his US home in early 2016.

Documents submitted by the US Homeland Security Department reveal that when questioned at the Newark, New Jersey airport on Jan 1, 2016, Kemal Batmaz said he would stay with Gulen while in the US, Turkey's Anadolu Agency reported. 

Gulen stands accused of heading the network that allegedly orchestrated the coup attempt. The authorities in Turkey have dubbed the group Fetullah Terror Organisation (FETO). 

Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since leaving Turkey in 1999.

Turkish authorities have been prosecuting members of the network, since the abortive putsch amid mass investigations into the suspected infiltration of state institutions, including the military, the police, the judiciary, universities and schools.

The evidence was sent on September 8 to the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court, where 486 defendants are being tried over their alleged role in the coup at Akinci Air Base north of the capital Ankara, which was used as a headquarters for the coup attempt on July 15.

They face charges including membership in a terrorist organisation, attempting to assassinate the president, and trying to overthrow the parliament.

Evidence of FETO links

Batmaz, a civilian accused of being one of the defeated coup leaders, was arrested at the base on the morning of July 16.

He along with Adil Oksuz, another key accused coup-plotter, were reportedly caught on camera returning to Istanbul from the US on July 13, 2016, two days before the attempted takeover.

Authorities say they had visited Gulen at his home in the US state of Pennsylvania to discuss and plan the coup.

When Batmaz was accused in court of commanding the 143rd fleet at the 4th Main Jet Base Akinci, he denied it, saying he was in the area to inspect land he was considering buying.

On a May 30 hearing in the case, former General Hakan Evrim denied having “saluted” Batmaz at the air base, despite video footage showing otherwise.

The US airport security evidence was also sent to the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court, where 221 suspects are being tried for alleged membership in the so-called “Peace at Home Council,” a committee established by the coup-plotters to replace the government if the putsch had succeeded.

Source: AA