Turkish gov’t jails 50, demands aggravated life sentences for 267 people over alleged Gülen links

Turkish government has jailed at least 50 people across Turkey on Tuesday as demanding aggravated life sentences for 267 people on Wednesday over their alleged involvement into a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 or their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

A total of 50 people, including former teachers and a ministry staffer, were slapped with jail terms by Turkish courts on Tuesday for being alleged members of the Gülen movement.

A high criminal court in Ankara has sentenced 33 people; 4 of whom to 6 years and 3 months for being alleged members of the Gülen movement and 20 others to 4 years and 2 months for allegedly providing financial support to the movement.

A high criminal court in the Aegean province of İzmir convicted two staffers of Gediz University on Tuesday. Ali Saray, who was previously working in the Human Resources Department of the university, was handed down 9 years in prison. Murat Akpıçak, former head of administrative and financial affairs of the university, was also sentenced to 10 years in prison for over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

In the capital Ankara, Mustafa Suyabatmaz, a former staffer of Finance Ministry, was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison for being an alleged member of the Gülen movement and allegedly using the mobile phone messaging application ByLock.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

In southeastern Şanlıurfa province, a dismissed teacher was given 9 years in prison for the same charges. Another  teacher was convicted in eastern Malatya province and given 7 years and 6 months in prison for allegedly using ByLock. In Black Sea province of Rize, 3 people were sentenced to 6 years for being alleged members of the Gülen movement.

In central Kırıkkale province, 9 people were given jail terms ranging from 1 to 7 years in prison.

Meanwhile, it was reported that Turkish prosecutors have been seeking aggravated life sentences for over 250 people over their alleged participation in the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Prosecutors have also requested the release of 63 other suspects.

The suspects, military officers, are accused over incidents at the 58th Artillery Brigade and Command of Artillery and Missile School in the capital Ankara’s Polatlı district. At the 13th High Criminal Court in Ankara, 267 of 330 suspects stand accused of violating the constitutional order. Prosecutor Hamza Yokuş has also requested the release of another 62 rank-and-file soldiers and a civil servant. The court ordered the continued detention of the suspects in question.

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, 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.”

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