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Court releases 6 academics arrested over Gülen links

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An İstanbul court on Friday ruled to release six academics from İstanbul University who were arrested due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement.

A total of 45 academics, 13 of whom were jailed, are standing trial at the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court. Following four day-long hearings that ended on Friday, the court decided to release six academics, Ferah Armutçu, Hasan Fehmi Erol, Metin Halaç, Lütfi İlhan Yargıç, Savaş Açıkkaya and Vedat Demir, in consideration of time already served. A travel ban was imposed on the six academics.

The court ruled for the continuation of the imprisonment of the other suspects.

Turkey experienced a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, 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.

Over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of Feb. 1, 89,775 people were being held without charge, with an additional 43,885 in pre-trial detention due to their alleged links to the movement.

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