Director of movies on Erdoğan and coup arrested over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish filmmaker Ali Avcı was arrested and sent to prison by an İstanbul court on Wednesday over his alleged links to the Gülen movement. The İstanbul Penal Court of Peace remanded producer-director Ali Avcı on the charge of being “a leader of an armed terrorist organization”.

As part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting the alleged followers of the Gülen movement,  Avcı was detained by İstanbul police’s counterterrorism unit on July 13 following the detention warrant issued by İstanbul proesecutors.

Ali Avcı, the director of a soon-to-be-released movie about a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. Avcı’s detention came only hours after a trailer for his new movie, titled “Uyanış” or “the Awakening” in English, was released on social media, drawing backlash from pro-government circles.

Set to be showcased soon, Uyanış starts with a poem Erdoğan often reads during political rallies, while glorifying the efforts against the coup plotters. However, even though Erdoğan never came across with the soldiers that allegedly followed him on the night of July 15, last year, the trailer shows some scenes in which a soldier holds a gun onto the president’s head and Erdoğan’s family members are killed by coup plotters.

Avcı was also the producer of “the Chief (Reis)” a hyped biopic that traces the life of Erdoğan, released last year.

In a separate trial, the same court arrested eight former TRT — Turkey’s state broadcaster — employees while another was released under judicial restrictions. The Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office had issued detention warrants for 34 former TRT employees on July 12 over their alleged use of ByLock.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting participants of the Gülen movement in jails.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has announced on July 7, 2017 that at least 50,504 people have been arrested and 168,801 have been the subject of legal proceedings (investigations, detentions etc.) in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Also, arrest warrants have been issued for 8,069 people, according to Bozdağ.

July 19, 2017

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