Maverick F-16 combat pilot exposed false claim of plan to intercept presidential plane to kill Erdoğan

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Abdullah Bozkurt

An F-16 combat pilot who was accused of attempting to intercept the presidential plane in a false flag coup bid on July 15, 2016 was both in the air and on the ground at the same time, according to evidence submitted by the prosecutor, dealing a huge blow to the official government storyline of the coup events.

In his detailed court testimony, air force Capt. Oğuz Alper Emrah, a 39-year-old veteran fighter pilot and trainer, exposed how the prosecutor used fabricated radio recordings to falsely incriminate him and others on coup plotting charges. He revealed major inconsistencies in the indictment and contradictory evidence that confirm the view that the failed coup was nothing but a government plot to empower President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and transform NATO’s second largest army into a bastion of Islamists and neo-nationalists as a result of mass purges.

In his testimony at the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court on February 20, 2018, the captain highlighted major inconsistency in the indictment that included transcripts of two radio recordings with exactly the same date and time stamp but with different content. According to the maverick combat pilot, this revealed how the investigators tampered with the transcripts and framed innocent officers with forged evidence.

According to a radio conversation with ID number 1.922.341 on July 16, 2016 at 00:17:45 hours, which was cited on page 685 of the indictment, Emrah responded to a call from Ahmet Tosun, also a trainer pilot with 141st Squadron based at the Akıncı 4th Main Jet Base Command, by using his alleged call sign Şahin-2 (Hawk-2). In the call Tosun allegedly said, “Sir, the plane we’re going to identify [as a target for interception] is probably a huge plane that’s going to bear the presidential insignia.” Emrah simply responded to this call by giving his call name, meaning he acknowledged the message, according to the indictment.

However, on page 1,391 of the transcript of the same radio conversation with exactly the same ID number, date and time stamp, Emrah’s response was different than the one cited on page 685. He allegedly said, “Agreed” to a call by Tosun, who said, “Sir, the plane we’re going to identify [as a target for interception] is probably a huge plane that’s going to bear the presidential insignia.”

Pages from the indictment that show contradictions in the same radio conversation transcript

In addition to the apparent contradiction in the same message content on different pages of the indictment, Emrah told the court that the style of the conversation was not in line with the standard radio operating techniques explained in detail in Turkish Air Force manuals. He said ‘Agreed’ (mutabık in Turkish) means the pilot had prior knowledge of the orders and instructions. He said he could not reply to instructions that he was hearing for the first time by saying “Agreed,” as opposed to using his call sign, which means something different. This is particularly relevant in the case of the alleged assassination plot to intercept and shoot down the presidential plane, Emrah explained in court.

Anther major contradiction in the indictment was also seen in the alleged radio conversations. According to record No.1.921.949 on July 15, 2016 at 23:18:44 hours, the same exact content that was mentioned above was copied. The problem, however, in this case was that Emrah was not even in the plane at the time the alleged radio conversation took place. The indictment listed him as taking off from the base in an F-16 at 00:20 hours on July 16, 2016. Again, on page 1,319 of the indictment, the prosecutor listed the radio record conversation transcript with the same ID number, same date and time stamp but with different content from the one listed on page 683.

In court testimony Oğuz Alper Emrah exposed contradictions in the evidence submitted by the prosecutor: 

Capt. Emrah underlined that the major contradictions among the prosecutor’s evidence that was included in the indictment showed that the government case was built on fabrications and proclaimed his innocence of all charges. “These claims [in the radio conversations] are not true, and their content is false. That’s why I reject all these records. I am also pressing charges against the prosecutor, his staff and anyone who was involved in the effort to manipulate the court by tampering with the evidence, and I’m filing a criminal complaint and demand that the necessary action be taken against these perpetrators,” he said.

Pages from the indictment that show contradictions in the same radio conversation transcripts


What is more, the radio transcripts indicated that Capt. Emrah was asked to fly his F-16 with night vision goggles to identify and pursue the president’s plane in the middle of the night. However, he revealed in court that he has neither training nor a license to fly a combat jet with night vision goggles, which requires rigorous training and study on a completely different level.

During the cross-examination in court, pilot Adem Kırcı, another defendant in the trial, pointed to yet another major contradiction in the case file. He said according to the military expert report prepared under orders from the prosecutor, he and Emrah miraculously flew the same F-16 at the same time in different locations, which begs the question of how reliable the evidence presented by the prosecutor was.

According to the expert report, Emrah flew an F-16 with tailgate number 3661 between 00:20 and 01:38 hours on July 16. However, in the same report, Kırcı was claimed to have taken off in the same F-16 at 00:54, which was impossible.

Against the backdrop of such major contradictions in the evidence, Capt. Emrah asked the court to order the prosecutor to present all the recordings in their entirety and in original format and have the evidence examined by independent experts, a request that was denied with no reason provided by the judge. He also wanted to obtain all the evidence such as radar and flight data, radio and cockpit communications and CCTV video recordings at the base including the hangar area, but Turkish authorities only provided partial evidence that was apparently tampered with as explained earlier. Emrah requested in particular the content of the Digital Video Recorder (DVR), which is used in F-16s to record flight data and is removed by the pilots after landing for review.

Part of the court transcript that shows two separate pilots flew the same F-16 at the same time in different locations: 


What is more, a huge smear campaign was launched against Emrah in the government-controlled Turkish media, portraying him as a criminal and putschist. One news segment on the government controlled CNN Türk, a Turkish affiliate of CNN International that is owned by a businessman close to President Erdoğan, even claimed a sidewinder air-to-air missile mounted on his F-16 bore the handwritten letters “CB” in reference to President Erdoğan. Capt. Emrah said no such practice exists in the Turkish Air Force for air-to-air missiles as opposed to air-to-surface bombs.

“There was absolutely no writing on the plane I flew that night. While there is a tradition of writing notes on air-to-surface missiles in the air force, this practice would never apply to air-to-air missiles. There has not been a single example of this, ever,” he said. He asked the court to investigate how those letters were written on the sidewinder missile just before the press was invited for a video recording. The F-16 he flew was loaded with two M9 and two M120 missiles.

A sidewinder air-to-air missile mounted on an F-16 with the handwritten letters “CB” in reference to President Erdoğan. It was alleged to have been written by putschists but turned out to be the work of a government media campaign.

Capt. Emrah was working as a trainer pilot, but he had also taken part in missions like many other trainers because of General Staff orders to ease the stress arising from a shortage of combat pilots in the Turkish Air Force. On July 16 he flew as part of standard counterterrorism (Terörle Mücadele Harekatı, or TMH) mission under orders from his commanding officer. He had participated in similar operations many times before, had been summoned to the base at odd hours for rapid response emergency missions and had scrambled his jet, often without knowing the mission targets. The coordinates were provided while he was in the air, and he was expected to act in line with orders from officers on the ground.


July 15 was Emrah’s last day at Akıncı Air Base because the Turkish Air Force had assigned him to work at NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Brunssum in the Netherlands for three years. He was running errands, giving last-minute notices and taking care of paperwork while finishing his assignment before moving to Europe. He had not been around the base because he had been busy with a series of lectures, workshops and trainings provided by the air force and the General Staff that were aimed at preparing him for the job at the NATO command. He was absent much of the time from 143rd Squadron, where he was serving, because of his hectic training program.

He even spent two weeks in the Netherlands before July 15 as part of an orientation program, leased an apartment there on a three-year contract and enrolled his daughter in a local school. Records of his phone calls to the Netherlands and Germany as part of his preparations to transfer to the NATO command were presented by the prosecutor in court as if they were criminal evidence against him that would also implicate NATO and the Dutch government.

Emrah returned to his squadron on July 11 to complete the final paperwork before he went to the NATO command on a flight scheduled for July 17, turn over his assignments to others and disengage from the squadron. In the meantime he continued to work regular hours at the base. Since dental work in the Netherlands is expensive compared to that in Turkey, he even made a trip to the dentist on July 14 but could not make his next appointment on July 15 because he was busy training a pilot at the base. In the afternoon he was told a TMH operation might take place some time later and was asked to stay behind.

Air force pilot Capt. Oğuz Alper Emrah

As instructed, he took off from the base at 00:20 hours on July 16 and remained at the coordinates provided by the flight control room. He said he followed a straight flight path south towards the Mediterranean and returned to the base after receiving instructions. He said he did not intercept the presidential plane, which could be easily confirmed by radar and flight data. He lost radio contact for a while in the air. On his return flight, radio contact was re-established and he was given new coordinates to make a pass over the capital. He did not find the new order to be out of the ordinary.

“The first thing that came to mind about this instruction was that Ankara may have been hit by a major terrorist attack because I realized I was over the city [of Ankara]. Considering the urgency of the assignment and the reaction time and the fact that decision-makers [on the ground] are making the calls, nobody can question the assignment in cases where pilots do not have detailed information. I landed at Akıncı Air Base after flying several times on the coordinates given [by the command center on the ground]. Unlike the claims in the indictment, there was no breaking of the sound barrier or flying at low altitude [over the city]. That night, I didn’t fly at low altitude because it was nighttime and over an urban area. Your Honor, such flights are made in many cases, especially during terrorist attacks, to boost the morale of the troops [that are engaging with terrorists] and to intimidate terrorists with the sound of jets,” Emrah explained.

While in the air he briefly experienced a fuel problem, went through a standard checklist to fix it and eventually managed to resolve it. He flew at an altitude of 15,000 to 20,000 feet and dropped to 10,000 feet on his return when he was given an order to make a pass over Ankara.

Some time after landing, Emrah left the base and went to the nearby residential compound where he and his family lived. He called in to ask what to do and was told to wait until he was invited to make a statement. But the call never came. On July 20 he decided to visit the chief prosecutor’s office at Ankara Batı Adliyesi on his own to relate what he had experienced during the coup events and to help the prosecutor understand the incidents. He was surprised to hear the chief prosecutor say: “Why did you come? We have names on a list; we were going to pick you up [for detention], anyway.” He was detained on the spot, formally arrested in a five-minute hearing and sent to jail, where he was subjected to abuse and ill-treatment.

The full 59-page court transcript of the defense testimony of Capt. Oğuz Alper

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