Turkish court sentences 16 İTÜ academics to 3-7 years in prison over alleged Gülen links

A Turkish court sentenced 16 academics from the prestigious İstanbul Technical University (İTÜ) to varying prison terms on Friday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court held the final hearings in the trial targeting alleged supporters of the Gülen movement during a three-day session. Five out of 35 academics involved in the case were sentenced to six years, three months in prison, while eight academics were given 7,5 years in prison; another academic was given four years, two months; and two others were given three years, one month and 15 days.

All sixteen academics were convicted of membership in an alleged “terror group.” The trial for the remaining 19 academics will continue in a separate case, the court ruled.

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 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. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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