Turkish court sentences Fethullah Gülen’s brother to 10,5 years in prison

Kudbettin Gülen

A Turkish court sentenced Kutbettin Gülen, one of the brothers of US-based Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen, to 10,5 years in jail on Monday.

Kutbettin Gülen was arrested on Oct. 2, 2016 as part of the Turkish government’s massive pots-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement,

The İzmir 14th High Criminal Court handed down the sentence to Kutbettin Gülen, who had been held in pretrial detention. Attending the trial via video conference, Gülen, who said that he suffered from health problems, denied the accusations against him and asked to be released from prison.

In his defense in court in September 2017 Kutbettin Gülen had said his only crime was having the same surname as Fethullah Gülen. Gülen’s brother, who has been accused of supporting the Gülen movement, said: “I have no crime other than my last name. I have had heart disease for 20 years. I have prostate problems, and I have to relieve myself 20 to 30 times a day.”

Kutbettin Gülen’s lawyer, Hasan Özçelik, had also said Gülen’s brother was not a member of any association or foundation inspired by his elder brother Fethullah Gülen and did not use the ByLock mobile phone application. Özçelik also said Gülen had health problems and was not able to take care of his own needs.

It was also stated in a report on online news outlet TR724 in July 2017 that Kutbettin Gülen was deprived of his medications despite suffering from heart disease and high blood pressure. According to the report, 70-year-old Kutbettin Gülen, who was working for a printing house in İzmir, has been held in solitary confinement since October 2, 2016.

Gülen, who also has a herniated disk, had not been given permission to see his family for months until his daughter recently was allowed to visit. His daughter did not recognize her father, who has lost much weight and could walk only with the support of two guards.

Gülen’s lawyer told TR724 that instead of the medications he needs, he might have been given strong and fatal medications. The report also stated that his family is worried about losing him if these conditions in prison persist.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

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 about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 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.

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