Prominent social security expert given suspended sentence over Gülen links

A Turkish court has handed down a suspended sentence of three years, 45 days to Ali Tezel, a journalist and social security expert, due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement for depositing money at a Gülen-linked bank, Turkish Minute reported.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court handed down the sentence to Tezel on charges of aiding a terrorist organization for depositing money at the now-closed, Gülen-linked Bank Asya and calling on others to do the same. The court initially sentenced Tezel to five years but reduced it due to good behavior and the small amount of money he deposited at the bank.

Tezel angered the government in February 2015 by posting a photo himself on Twitter which showed him depositing money at a branch of Bank Asya, which was closed by the government following the coup attempt due to its links to the Gülen movement.

Tezel’s move was interpreted as a sign of support for the survival of the bank at a time when the bank was in the process of being unlawfully being seized by the government.

The case against Tezel was based on a complaint filed by his former wife, with whom he is involved in a dispute over parental rights, according to Tezel’s lawyer.

More than 130,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 30,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism following the coup attempt by the government as part of its crackdown on the movement.

Depositing money at Bank Asya is also considered a crime by the courts and a sign of support for the Gülen movement, with thousands of people in jail for simply depositing money at its facilities.

Tezel is a prominent journalist who has been writing about social security issues in various Turkish newspapers for years.

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