By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun
A businessman known as the “money vault” of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) has been returned to Turkey, a security official said Monday.
Memduh Cikmaz, who is said to have bankrolled the group behind last year’s defeated coup, was returned to Turkey from Sudan in a joint operation between the two countries’ intelligence agencies.
Cikmaz appeared at a court hearing in Corum via video link as he was being transferred to Bakirkoy Court in Istanbul from the city’s Ataturk International Airport.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, said Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization had pinpointed Cikmaz's location two months ago.
The agency operates a team of specialists to track down FETO members who have fled abroad.
It was unclear exactly when he was arrested but Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service is believed to have assisted in his arrest and repatriation.
Cikmaz, said to be a senior FETO figure with interests in petrol, retail and brick production, arrived in Turkey early Monday morning.
When asked in court his place of residence place and occupation, Cikmaz said he had been living in Khartoum and was a partner in a brick factory.
The court remanded him in custody, saying there was "strong evidence of crime" and suspicion "he may flee".
The native of Corum city in central Turkey left for Sudan in January 2016. The security official said Cikmaz had transferred millions of dollars to FETO from Sudan.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the July 15 defeated coup, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.