Pilots Who Shot Down Russian jet Arrested for Involvement in Coup Attempt

RussianPlaneTwo Turkish pilots who played a role in the downing of a Russian jet in November are in custody over the July 15 failed coup in Turkey, an official said late on June 18.

The downing of the Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border sparked an unprecedented diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Russia, which ended last month when the two countries agreed to restore ties.

“Two pilots who were part of the operation to down the Russian Su-24 in November 2015 are in custody,” a Turkish official told journalists, adding that they were detained over links to the coup bid.

The official confirmation came by Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ who said the pilots who downed the Russian warplane were among the detained plotters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on July 17, describing the attempted coup as unacceptable and voicing hope for a speedy return to stability.

The two men are expected to meet in the first week of August, in their first face-to-face meeting since the rapprochement.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said July 18 over 7,500 people have been detained over the July 15 botched power grab, including 103 generals and admirals.

The failed putsch left more than 300 people dead. Erdoğan has accused U.S.-based scholar Fethullah Gülen and his supporters of being behind the coup, but Gülen denies any involvement.