A court in western Aydın province has sentenced a teacher to seven-and-a-half years in prison after he turned himself claiming he was a sympathizer of the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by Turkish authorities of masterminding a failed coup last summer.
According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, the Aydın 2nd High Criminal Court sentenced Alper Ertürk, a teacher who worked at a private school established by Gülen followers, to seven-and-a-half years for membership in an armed terrorist organization.
On Dec. 18, 2014, Ertürk applied to the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office to turn himself in and said: “I have been in the Hizmet movement [Gülen movement], aka the cemaat and the camia, for 20 years. If the movement is a [terrorist] organization, if reading the Zaman daily and watching STV are crimes, I denounce myself. I kindly request you do what is necessary.”
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan immediately put the blame on the Gülen movement and speeded up a witch-hunt against sympathizers of the movement, which was also blamed by the government for launching a graft probe at the end of 2013 that also implicated figures from the AKP and people close to Erdoğan.
Despite Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose views inspired the Gülen movement, and the movement having denied the accusations, Erdoğan and the government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
Over 138.000 people have been dismissed from their jobs, more than 106.000 were detained and nearly 53.000 jailed over alleged links to the movement.
Turkey’s leading media outlets Zaman daily and Samanyolu TV (STV) were shut down by the government following the failed coup.