Turkish historian sentenced to prison for alleged links to Gülen movement

Photo: Twitter @Talhaugurluel

The Istanbul 28th High Criminal Court has sentenced Turkish historian and writer Talha Uğurluel to six years, three months in prison for alleged links to the Gülen movement, Turkish media reported on Wednesday.

Uğurluel’s account at Bank Asya, a financial institution that was closed by the government following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 due to its affiliation with the Gülen movement, was used as evidence against him, as were his ties to companies, charity organizations and schools associated with the movement.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Following the coup attempt the Turkish government accepted such activities as having an account at the now-closed Bank Asya, one of Turkey’s largest commercial banks at the time, and using the encrypted messaging application ByLock, which was available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play, as benchmarks for identifying and arresting alleged followers of the Gülen movement on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on February 20, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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