A court in İstanbul has acquitted Barbaros Muratoğlu, the Ankara representative of Doğan Holding which has numbers of media outlets, including CNN Turk, Kanal D TV channels, Hürriyet daily news etc., supportive to Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, of all charges and ruled that he can file a claim for compensation for being unjustly deprived of his freedom after he was jailed for 196 days following the a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
According to report in Turkish media, upon Muratoğlu’s appeal, İstanbul’s 2nd Appeal Court reversed the verdict issued by a lower court on November 13, 2017, on the grounds that the indictment did not cite an offence committed on behalf of “a terror organisation.”
The İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court had initially sentenced Muratoğlu to five years in prison on charges of aiding the “FETÖ,” an acronym used by the Erdoğan regime to refer to the Gülen movement as a terror organisation, before reducing it to one year and eight months.
Muratoğlu was released from İstanbul’s Silivri Prison late on June 15, 2017, 196 days after he was arrested.
Muratoğlu was charged with helping “FETÖ” after he signed a contract with an Ankara-based law firm, which employed workers who were later profiled as sympathizers of the movement. Some of Muratoğlu’s contacts were also found to be users of mobile phone messaging application ByLock.
Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
In addition, Muratoğlu’s visit to Fethullah Gülen in-person, as part of a group in 2012, was also included in the indictment as evidence of his connection with the movement.
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 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 them in custody.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.