Turkish gov’t detains dozens, convicts 59 academicians over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has continued to detain dozens of people and convicted 84 people, including 59 academics, across Turkey on Friday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Detention warrants were issued in Ankara for 44 teachers, who used to work for the schools that the government shuttered over affiliation to the Gülen movement, on Friday. Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued the warrants for the teachers who are also accused of having ties to the movement. 28 of the teachers were detained during police raids in 11 provinces across Turkey.

In a separate investigation, Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office has also issued detention warrants for 23 people on Friday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was reported that police has detained 18 of them early morning.

Also in Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 16 military officers from Turkish Gendarme General Command on Friday. Police has detained 15 of them. It was reported that 7 of the detained military officers are colonels and 9 are lieutenant colonels, 12 of them are still on active duty.

Meanwhile, a Samsun couple, both judges who were earlier removed from their offices over their alleged ties to the Gülen movement, were sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison. O.F.K. and his wife F.K. appeared in their final hearing on Wednesday. The couple pleaded not guilty. It was reported that O.F.K. has been released on judicial control as he spent some one year in pretrial detention.

Moreover, an İstanbul prosecutor has demanded aggravated life sentences on Friday for 159 former military officers over their alleged links to Gülen movement.The military officers have been accused of attempting to seize the İstanbul Atatürk Airport during the night of controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The charges against the suspects include “attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and the Parliament”, “membership to a terror group”, “delibrate murder” and “violating the Constitution.”

The indictment stated that the coup soldiers’ plan was to prevent Turkish citizens from leaving and entering the country by seizing the control tower of the airport and halting the flights. Recently, a court in İstanbul handed down life sentences on 28 military officers for trying to take control of İstanbul’s second airport Sabiha Gökçen during the coup attempt.

Also on Friday, a total of 84 people, mostly academics, were convicted and sentenced to prison over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.  being members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the group behind last year’s defeated coup, according to a security source.

A total of 48 dismissed academics who used to work at northwestern Bolu’s Abant İzzet Baysal University were given sentences ranging from 2 to 7 years.

In northwestern Çanakkale’s 2nd High Criminal Court gave a life sentence to a former military commander who was arrested three days after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

In Kocaeli province a dismissed police chief was sentenced to over 6 years in jail on Friday over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

In the Black Sea provinces of Samsun and Rize, a total of four people, including a former judge, were handed prison terms of over 6 years on Friday

In the central province of Kayseri, 7 people were handed prison terms of some 4 to 7 years on Friday.

Eleven former academic and administrative personnel of central Turkey’s Kırıkkale University were also given jail terms ranging from some 6 to 8 years over their alleged affiliation to the movement.

The 2nd High Criminal Court in the southern Hatay province has also convicted a total of 12 people in two separate hearings on Friday, giving them jail terms ranging between 6 and seven years over their alleged links 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 President 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.

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