Sixty-year-old Abdurrahman Selçuk has been convicted of terror charges and handed down a nine-year jail sentence for distributing medicine to hospitals linked to the Gülen movement in Tanzania during occasional trips to the east African country.
Selçuk’s trial was concluded on Thursday by the Kayseri 2nd High Criminal Court, which sentenced him for membership in a terror organization.
In his defense, Selçuk denied the terror charges and said he was taking medicine to Turkish hospitals in Tanzania to make a living and did not know they had links to the Gülen movement.
The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement.
“I am innocent. I miss my black pearls [Tanzanian children]. I want my release and acquittal,” said Selçuk.
Selçuk was detained on Jan. 26 and subsequently arrested.
The military coup attempt killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip 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.
Amid an ongoing witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Jan. 5 said 48,305 people were jailed in 2017 alone over Gülen movement links.
The followers of the Gülen movement have been running schools, hospitals and carrying out charity activities across the world for years.