Bilgihan Aksan, a teacher dismissed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government as part of a witch-hunt following a July 15 coup attempt, was sentenced to six years, three months in prison over links to the Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.
According to the report, a court in Erzurum presented a one dollar bill that was found in Aksan’s home, his bank account at Bank Asya, which was seized by the government before the coup attempt, and his membership in AktifSen, an education union that was closed by the government after the failed coup, as evidence sufficient for sentencing him as a member of an armed terrorist organization.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling AKP government declared the Gülen movement a terrorist organization following Dec 17/25, 2013 corruption investigations that implicated ministers and the family of Erdoğan.
Prior to the coup attempt on July 15, the government had seized many companies and schools for their ties to the Gülen movement.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 which killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the AKP government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
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.
A report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that although President Erdoğan and the Turkish government immediately put the blame for the July 15 failed coup 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 on Jan. 17.
The Aldrimer.no website reported on Jan. 25 that NATO sources believe the coup was staged by the president of Turkey himself.
In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of March 1, 93,248 people were being held without charge, with an additional 46,274 in pre-trial detention.
A total of 7,316 academics were dismissed, and 4,070 judges and prosecutors were purged over alleged coup involvement or terrorist links.