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2 arrested in Russian envoy assassination case, but for Gülen links, not as accessories

This picture taken on December 19, 2016 shows Andrey Karlov (L), the Russian ambassador to Ankara, lying on the floor after being shot by a gunman (R) during an attack during a public event in Ankara. A gunman crying "Aleppo" and "revenge" shot Karlov while he was visiting an art exhibition in Ankara on December 19, witnesses and media reports said. The Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency said the gunman had been "neutralised" in a police operation, without giving further details. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER


Two people, including a police officer, were arrested by a Turkish court over links to the Gülen movement as part of an investigation into the assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov, who was killed by a 22-year-old policeman at an art gallery in Ankara on Dec. 19.

According to the ruling of a Penal Court of Peace in Ankara on Wednesday, police officer Sercan Başar and businessman Enes Asım Silin were arrested over links to faith-based Gülen movement, which the Turkish government blames for a failed coup last July, while three other detainees were released pending trial.

Although US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen condemned the assassination of Karlov as a “heinous act of terror” and urged the Turkish government to identify anyone who aided the gunman, the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan once again scapegoated Gülen a day after the assassination and claimed he was behind it.

I condemn in the strongest terms this heinous act of terror,” Gülen said in a written statement. “Turkish and international experts repeatedly have pointed out the deterioration of security and counter-terrorism efforts due to the Turkish government’s assigning hundreds of counter-terrorism police officers to unrelated posts, as well as the firing and imprisoning many others since 2014,” Gülen added.

The pro-government media was quick to put the blame on the Gülen movement, claiming that the assassin, police officer Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, had Gülen links despite the fact that he shouted al Nusra Front slogans after the shooting of Lavrov and attended the sermons of pro-Erdoğan cleric Nurettin Yıldız at Ankara’s Hacı Bayram Mosque.

Altıntaş’s sister also denied allegations that he had attended a Gülen-linked prep school and that a businessman had helped the family with the gunman’s education. Altıntaş’s sister said her brother had changed after starting at the police school and emphasized the non-pious lifestyle of the family.

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