A mother of three was arrested on Thursday for alleged links to the Gülen movement, leaving her children to the care of relatives, the Bold Medya news website reported.
Döndü Deniz was handed down a nine-year sentence and sent to a prison in southeastern Mardin province. She broke down in court when she heard the judges’ decision and said her three children — Sema, 9, Belma, 7, and Semra, 5 — were waiting for her at home.
Deniz’s husband Hıdır Deniz was also arrested two years ago on similar charges and sentenced to nine years, seven months in prison. The couple are accused of working for private tuition centers affiliated with the movement, depositing money to the now-closed Bank Asya and using the ByLock smartphone messaging app.
Turkey has considered ByLock, once widely available online, a secret tool of communication among supporters of the movement, since a coup attempt in July 2016 despite the lack of any evidence that ByLock messages were related to the abortive putsch, leading to the arrest of thousands who were using it.
The Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, is accused by the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding the failed coup and is labeled a “terrorist organization,” although the movement denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
The purge has damaged the unity of many families and left children to the care of relatives. Such separations have had a negative impact on the mental and physical well-being of the children. In cases where grandparents are responsible of the child’s care, they cannot meet every need, especially in education and schoolwork.