Prosecutor seeks 15 years for academics over Gülen links

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An İstanbul prosecutor has demanded a 15-year sentence for each of 83 academics from Yıldız Technical University for alleged membership in the Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, the state-run TRThaber reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, prosecutor Mehmet Şenay Baygın, from the bureau of terrorism and organized crime, completed an indictment for 83 academics, 21 of whom are already in jail. Baygın asked the court for sentences ranging from seven-and-a-half years to 15 years for the academics on charges of being members of “FETÖ,” a derogatory term coined by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to refer to members of the Gülen movement.

On Friday prosecutors issued detention warrants for 37 academics at İstanbul Technical University (İTÜ) over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

In a similar operation, 19 people including academics from Gaziosmanpaşa University were detained in the central province of Tokat on Friday due to alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement.

Over 135,000 people, including 20,000 academics, have been purged, some 90,000 people were detained and in excess of 43,000 people have been jailed in witch-hunt operations that were launched by the ruling AKP against the Gülen movement following a coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others.

Strongly denying having any role in the putsch, Fethullah Gülen called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Recep Tayyip 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.

A report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) has revealed that although Erdoğan and the Turkish government immediately put the blame for the July 15 failed coup attempt on the faith-based Gülen movement, the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge, according to a report by The Times newspaper last week.

The European intelligence contradicts the Turkish government’s claim that Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen, a cleric living in self-exile whose views inspired the movement, was behind the plot to overthrow the Turkish government.

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