Turkish authorities were planning a major shake-up of the military to remove elements linked to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen just ahead of the failed coup, a key minister says Wednesday.
Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, who is the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, suggests parts of the military had wanted to act against the government as they knew they were about to be purged.
Albayrak, who was with Erdogan throughout the night of the botched putsch on July 15, says the president had first been warned about the coup by a civilian and it was only later that the gravity of the situation became clear.
In his first meeting with foreign reporters since the coup night, Albayrak reveals that Turkey’s Supreme Military Council (YAS) had this summer been planning to meet to expel all officers linked to Gulen, who Turkey blames for masterminding the putsch.
“They were going to take really important steps to remove Gulenist officers and generals from the armed forces. We were already working on this.”
He says this would have been part of a general purge against pro-Gulen elements that would have also extended to the legal system and other institutions.
“These people (linked to Gulen) were detected and the related lists had been conveyed to the line ministries.”
He adds: “After they (the plotters) realized things were going like this, at their last breath, they took their final step (the coup).”