A group of pro-government Turkish lawyers have reportedly filed charges against U.S. Air Force officers associated with İncirlik Air Base based on allegations that they are connected to a movement that attempted a coup d'état against Turkey’s government in July 2016.
The lawyers are seeking a temporary halt to all flights leaving Incirlik Air Base — an important staging point for combat operations against the Islamic State group — and access to the base via a search warrant, according to court documents unearthed by the Stockholm Center for Freedom, a group of exiled Turkish journalists.
With many of their Turkish counterparts now gone, Air Force leaders look to establish new ties.
The papers were filed at the chief public prosecutor’s office in Adana, where İncirlik is located. The lawyers who submitted the request are from the Association for Social Justice and Aid, which the exiled Turkish journalists described as a non-governmental organization fronting for senior Turkish officials.
The lawyers also asked in their petition for the “arrest of the commanders of the U.S. Air Force who are the superiors of the soldiers based at İncirlik and took a role in the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016,” according to the documents.
U.S. officials did not provide comment on what, if any, actions were planned to deal with the charges, but did deny that the U.S. government was involved in the attempted coup.
“Any reports that U.S. government or military personnel had any previous knowledge or involvement in a Turkey coup attempt are baseless and completely false,” Mark Mackowiak, a U.S. European Command spokesman, told Air Force Times.
“We value the strong, mil-to-mil relationship and partnerships we have with our Turkish counterparts and continue to carry out our important mission at Incirlik," he added.
Friction between the United States and Turkey may be manifesting in scaled back operations from the strategic Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey.
The 60-page criminal complaint specifically names Col. John C. Walker, Col. Michael H. Manion, Col. David Eaglen, Col. David Trucksa, Lt. Col. Timothy J. Cook, Lt. Col. Mack R. Coker, Sgt. Thomas S. Cooper, Sgt. Vegas M. Clark and others deployed to İncirlik Base, asking for their detention.
However, those "individuals mentioned are not currently stationed at Incirlik,” Mackowiak said.
The report by the exiled journalists cites a tit-for-tat sanction dispute between the Trump administration and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a possible cause of the charges.
The U.S. imposed economic sanctions on Turkey’s interior and justice ministers last week for their role in the detention of an American pastor also accused of involvement in the coup attempt.