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Teacher given 11-year sentence over Gülen movement links

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A Turkish court has handed down a prison sentence of 11 years to Hasan Günay, a teacher, on charges of membership in the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.

Günay was working at the private Yamanlar College, which was closed down by the government following the coup attempt over alleged Gülen links; sent his children to schools linked to the movement; had a bank account in Bank Asya, which was confiscated by the government following the coup attempt; and used a smart phone application known as Bylock, which were all mentioned as evidence of his affiliation with the Gülen movement by the İzmir 13th High Criminal Court.

The Turkish government calls the Gülen movement, which promotes educational activities and interreligious dialogue across the world, an “armed terrorist organization” despite the fact that the movement has not been involved in any acts of violence.

Immediately after the failed coup attempt on July 15, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Taiyyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, 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.

According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt.

Contrary to accusations made by President Erdoğan and the Turkish government, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament concluded in March that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind the failed coup in Turkey.

The UK Parliament statement came a week after Germany rejected Erdoğan and the Turkish government’s accusations against the Gülen movement about July 15.

The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup in July.

Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he has not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the putsch in Turkey.

In addition, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge.

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