Number of Gülen followers in İstanbul prison surpasses all others jailed on terrorism charges

The number of inmates in İstanbul’s notorious Marmara Prison who are imprisoned on alleged links to the Gülen movement exceeds all other inmates in the prison who are jailed pending trial or convicted on terrorism charges, Turkish Minute reported, citing the data from the Justice Ministry.

The name of the former Silivri Prison, where mostly political prisoners are jailed, was recently changed to Marmara Prison following a request from the district’s mayor, who complained about the negative association of the district with the prison.

According to Halk TV, out of 23,324 inmates in Marmara Prison on Oct. 4, 2,017 were imprisoned on terrorism charges, with 1,705 of them arrested or convicted on affiliation with “FETÖ,” a derogatory acronym used by the government to label the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization.

While there are 919 inmates convicted on terror charges over links to the Gülen movement in Marmara Prison, the same figure drops to 195 for the total number of inmates convicted on other terror-related crimes, according to the Halk TV news website.

The data further showed that the total number of convicts in Marmara Prison was 16,702, with 3,603 people convicted of robbery, followed by drug-related offenses (3,459), extortion (1,101), murder (983), sexual offenses (944) and organized crime (122).

A lawyer from the Ankara Bar Association on Tuesday criticized the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government for focusing on political prosecutions and trials while the rate of “real” crimes is increasing dramatically in Turkey, where the number of suspects climbed to 14,345,936 in 2021, according to Justice Ministry data.

“The streets are not safe for anyone. … One out of every four voters is a suspect. There is a boom in real crime [rates] because law enforcement and the judiciary care only about political crimes and others often go unpunished,” Levent Mazılıgüney said.

The lawyer also warned society, especially the opposition, not to “give credence” to every perception operation carried out by the government on the issue.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, 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.

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