Turkish court sentences 64 academics, university staff to prison over Gülen links

A Turkish court has sentenced 64 academics and former staff members of the Denizli-based Pamukkale University to between 18 months and nine years in prison.

The Denizli 5th High Criminal Court held the final hearing on Friday of a trial stemming from an investigation into the Gülen movement’s alleged network within Pamukkale University. Sixty-four of 115 defendants were given prison sentences of between 18 months and eight years, nine months, mostly on charges of membership in the Gülen movement. Forty-eight of the suspects were acquitted of the charges, with the cases of the remaining three separated from the others.

Meanwhile, a 31-year-old teacher identified as A.Y.C. who was earlier dismissed from his job as part of the Turkish government’s post-coup crackdown has been detained along with his wife, D.C., while reportedly on their way to escape further persecution in Turkey.

The couple was picked up when gendarmes stopped the bus they took in an attempt to go to Greece in Tekirdag’s Malkara district, Turkish media reported. Arrest warrants were issued for the couple over their alleged ties to the Gülen movement six months ago, according to the media.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt launched by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Many tried to escape Turkey via illegal ways as the government cancelled their passports like thousands of others. On Feb 13, at least three people died and five others were missing after a boat carrying a group of eight capsized in the Evros River while seeking to escape a post-coup crackdown in Turkey.

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 2016. 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. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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