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Four Months On, Turkish Pro-Gov't Media Sticks to Su-24 Conspiracy Theories

© Photo : Vadim Savitsky / Russian Defense Ministry / Go to the mediabankThe body of the pilot of Russia's Su-24 bomber that was shot down by Turkey last week has arrived at the Chkalovsky Airport near Moscow
The body of the pilot of Russia's Su-24 bomber that was shot down by Turkey last week has arrived at the Chkalovsky Airport near Moscow - Sputnik International
Over four months have passed since a Turkish Air Force F-16 shot down a Russian Su-24 over Syria, and pro-government media in Turkey continue to insist that the attack was a conspiracy orchestrated by supporters of an exiled Turkish imam. For his part, Dursun Cicek, a lawmaker from the PDP, says it's time for the conspiracies to stop.

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In Turkey, the controversy over the November 2015 attack on the Russian plane continues to rage. On Friday, Turkish authorities confirmed the arrest of Alparslan Celikm, the alleged killer of one of the pilots of the downed Russian plane, who was shot dead parachuting to the ground after ejecting from the falling plane.

At the same time, the country's pro-government media continues to suggest that the order to attack the Russian plane did not come from the Turkish government. 

In a recent piece for the pro-government newspaper Sabah entitled 'The Operations Against Turkey and Erdogan', columnist Rasim Ozan Kutahyali suggested that the pilots of the F-16 which attacked the Russian Su-24 were supporters of Fethullah Gulen, an influential Islamic cleric.

Gulen, an almost mythical figure presently under self-imposed exile to the United States, is often blamed for all the ills troubling Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party. The pilots, Kutahyali suggested, were supporters of the Gulen movement, as are "up to half of the pilots of Turkish F-16s."

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Speaking to Sputnik Turkey, Dursun Cicek, a retired colonel and opposition MP from the People's Democratic Party, said that the pro-government media's conspiracy theories were outlandish and have to stop.

"Many pilots in the armed forces are trying to contact us; they want to put an end to the dissemination of this kind of disinformation, which isn't backed up in any way, and which casts a shadow on their reputation. Making generalizations of the kind made by this columnist is unacceptable."

"If you have hard facts, evidence to support your words, give them to the prosecutors – let them administer justice. If not, you must stop spreading this empty gossip. If any evidence was presented, the general staff would not allow for any officers connected to [Gulen's] 'Hizmet' to stay within its ranks. They would immediately be removed."

Ultimately, Cicek says, "these kinds of claims, in my view, are another attempt to weaken the armed forces from within."

In any case, several months after the attack, Russia has yet to receive an apology for the downing of its plane and the death of its pilot, presidential press secretary Dmitri Peskov said Friday.

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