Former governor of Turkey’s Bursa, jailed over Gülen links, released on bail

Şahabettin Harput, a former Turkish governor of the western province of Bursa who was arrested in August 2017 due to alleged links to the Gülen movement has been released on bail.

The latest hearing in Harput’s trial along with 60 other suspects, 17 of whom are in pre-trial detention, took place at the Bursa 8th High Criminal Court on Wednesday.

Harput, 69, is facing charges of membership in a terrorist organization, for which the prosecutor is seeking a jail sentence of up to 20 years.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the court decided to release Harput on bail of TL 50,000, along with two other defendants in the same trial, considering his advanced age and health problems. The next hearing will be held in September.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with 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 them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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