Turkish court accepts ‘you are not guilty’ note as crime evidence

High Criminal Court in Turkey’s Bolu province has assessed a note found at the house of an alleged member of the Gülen movement saying “They are looking for a smoking gun. They can not find. You are not guilty,” as a crime evidence against the defendant during a trial.

According to a report by Kronos online news portal, the trial of 20 defendants have begun over their alleged membership to “Education Lovers Association of Mudurnu” which was affiliated with the Gülen movement. It was alleged in the indictment that the members of the association were trying to gain new members for the Gülen movement by conducting religious meetings through the association’s activities.

In a note written by Ahmet Ç., who is accused of being an administrator of the association, consists of messages like ‘This is a conspiracy. They are looking for a smoking gun but they can not find. You are just members of an association. Do not accept any accusation,” was used as evidence against him in an indictment.

The defendants, who have been accused of using the association to organise meetings to gain new members for the Gülen movement, to deposit money into Bank Asya, to participate in trips and their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock, have been brought to the hall which was used as courtroom under extensive security measures.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among followers of the faith-based Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and housemakers, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The defendants made their defenses after their identification. It was claimed that Ahmet Ç. and his wife Ü.N.Ç. were assigned by the Gülen movement to carry out activities in Bolu province. It was also alleged that they established associations to make new members and to carry out activities in line with the movement’s aims.

Some notes seized in raids on their home and it was stated that he wrote those messages in order to motivate the other members of the movement.

A note which reportedly says “This is a conspiracy. They are looking for a smoking gun. But, they can not find. You are just members of an association. Do not accept any accusation. They will force you to confess. Refuse it. Be united. They’re trying to browbeat. You are not criminal. They do not allow a lawyer. Do not answer except questions they asked,” was also accepted as evidence of crime.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling 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’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.

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