Jailed Gülen sympathisers accused of ‘not supporting Turkish national football team’

A man from Turkey’s Iğdır province identified as A.B., who shared a cell with people jailed over alleged links to the Gülen movement, told Turkish prosecutors that his cellmates “would not even support the Turkish national soccer team” against its rivals, in a bid to capitalize on a so-called remorse law.

The pro-government Hürriyet daily reported on Friday that A.B. gave his statement to be released from prison or get a lower than anticipated sentence. The newspaper did not elaborate on the accusations against A.B.

“I shared the same cell with K.G. He and a group of others have been speaking on behalf of the Gülen movement. When a good thing happens to our country, they get upset. When there is economic problems in the country, they have been happy. When our national soccer team played matches, they even supported their rivals. They mobilized other inmates as well. They try to maintain their hopes. I saw them blatantly betraying our country,” A.B. told the prosecutor in his statement.

K.G., a teacher, who was jailed over alleged links to the Gülen movement, said in his defence that A.B. will accuse anyone. “I filed a slander suit against this person. My family and my children were victimized. I don’t have any intention of avoiding trial. I seek my acquittal and release,” he said.

The Hürriyet daily reported that the court sentenced K.G. to six years, three months in prison on charges of membership in a terrorist group and ruled to keep him behind bars while he filed an appeal.

Meanwhile, an Antalya woman identified as R.Y. was detained while she was burning copies of the Sızıntı magazine, also reported by the Hürriyet daily. Sızıntı was closed by a government decree under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 over its affiliation with the Gülen movement.

It was also reported that Turkish police have long been watching R.Y., a housewife who was earlier investigated for allegedly disseminating propaganda on behalf of the Gülen movement. Police detained her as she was attempting to destroy copies of the magazine near her home.

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. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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