8 people face up to 15 years in prison for aiding families of post-coup victims

An indictment drafted by Turkish prosecutors seeks a prison sentence of between seven-and-a-half and 15 years for eight people who were arrested in the southeastern province of Gaziantep for helping the families of individuals targeted by a post-coup crackdown in Turkey, Turkish Minute reported.

The eight people were detained in a police operation in Gaziantep on Feb. 7, 2020 targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by US based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen. Seven of the detainees were released on judicial probation, while one was arrested.

The suspects are accused of membership in a terrorist organization in the indictment, accepted by the Gaziantep 7th High Criminal Court, for providing food and financial assistance to the families of people who were arrested in the post-coup crackdown or removed from their state jobs and hence deprived of the means to make a living.

One of the suspects, Yusuf Ö., is also accused of providing jobs to the family members of purged civil servants.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding.  Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. Over 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors as well as 20,610 members of the armed forces were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

Former public servants were not only fired from their jobs; they were also banned from working again in the public sector and getting a passport. The government also made it difficult for them to work formally in the private sector. Notes were put on the social security database about dismissed public servants to deter potential employers.

According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in November, a total of 292,000 people have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there were 25,655 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed due to links to the Gülen movement.

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