Turkish dentist sentenced to 7,5 years over NBA star Kanter’s selfie taken on his clinic balcony

A Turkish dentist identified only as A.I.B. has been sentenced to 7,5 years in prison nearly one-and-a-half-years after he was detained because NBA player Enes Kanter took a selfie on the balcony of his İstanbul clinic.

A.I.B. was jailed pending trial in October 2016 when he was reported to police as the owner of a dental clinic where Kanter took a picture of himself along with former prosecutors Zekeriya Öz and Celal Kara. Kanter, Kara and Öz face outstanding arrest warrants over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The Turkish government had previously arrested Cemal Yavaş, the brother-in-law of prominent corruption prosecutor Öz, who exposed the Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption and bribery scandal implicating Cabinet ministers and the family of autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Öz faces charges arising from the corruption investigations of “forming an illegal organization,” “attempting to topple or incapacitate the government through the use of force or coercion” and “preventing the government from performing its duties partially or completely.”

In August 2015, detention warrants were issued for Zekeriya Öz, Celal Kara and Mehmet Yüzgeç, all former prosecutors who took part in the corruption probes. The whereabouts of Yüzgeç is unknown, while prosecutors Öz and Kara are known to be living in exile.

The Turkish government is seeking Interpol Red Notices for the three prosecutors, with the Supreme Court of Appeals issuing a request for Red Notices for the three on allegations of being behind a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

During his final hearing on March 29, dentist A.I.B. said the three were former patients. The court hearing his case convicted him on charges of membership in a “terrorist group” and sentenced him to 7.5 years in prison.

The court also released A.I.B. to house arrest. It was reported that his wife E.K.B., also a dentist at the same clinic, faces 15 years in prison on similar charges in a separate investigation.

Meanwhile, Ayşe Çalışkan, a Sakarya teacher who was dismissed from her job in September 2016, reportedly died of stomach cancer on March 30. The mother of two was diagnosed with cancer nearly a month after she was purged as part of the government’s post-coup crackdown targeting alleged followers of the Gülen movement.

She had surgery in İstanbul in June 2017, and since then her medical condition had only worsened. Çalışkan passed away on Friday, and her body was taken to her hometown of Adıyaman where she was buried.

Also on Friday, the chairman of the chamber of commerce in İzmir’s Aliağa district was detained as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement. Adnan Saka, 75, was detained over grants that the Aliağa Chamber of Commerce (ALTO) has given to needy students suspected of ties to the movement. Saka is accused of providing financial support to the Gülen movement.

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 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 has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.” (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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