Turkish gov’t jails former student leader over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has imprisoned a former student leader, identified as M.N. who graduated from the Department of International Relations of İstanbul’s prestigious Boğaziçi University last year, over his alleged ties to the Gülen movement.

The 24-year-old M.N. was detained after a police raid at his home on Dec. 6, 2017. While police seized his electronic devices including computer and cell phone, he was formally put in pretrial detention on Dec. 13, 2017 after spending a week in police custody. An indictment prepared subsequently seeks between 10 to 15 years in prison for M.N., who was also the president of the university’s student union, OTK, between Nov. 2014-Dec. 2017.

According to Turkish media reports M.N. was an alleged user of ByLock mobile phone messaging application which prosecutors claim to be once top communication tool among the alleged followers of Gülen movement. It was also reported that M.N. sought to tap into remorse law as he admits having studied at Gülen-affiliated schools before he was admitted to the Boğaziçi University.

After he was elected as OTK’s president, M.N. was approached by people from other universities with sympathy to the movement, who sought support ahead of election for membership to the Turkey Student Council, OTK’s parent network, according to the reports. “We only talked about the election and student matters,” M.N. said.

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 Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, 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.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “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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