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15-year jail sentence sought for coup movie director due to alleged Gülen links

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Turkish prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of up to 15 years for Ali Avcı, director of a movie about a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, due to alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the failed coup although the movement strongly denies any involvement.

Avcı was detained on July 13, 2017 shortly after the release of the trailer for the movie “Uyanış” (Awakening) on social media, sparking a backlash from pro-government circles.

“Uyanış” starts with a poem by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who often reads during political rallies, glorifying efforts against the coup plotters. However, even though Erdoğan never encountered the soldiers who allegedly followed him on the night of July 15, the trailer shows scenes in which a soldier holds a gun to the president’s head and Erdoğan’s family members are killed by coup plotters.

The director was subsequently arrested on charges of leading an armed terrorist organization.

Avcı’s trial began at the İstanbul 36th High Criminal Court on Wednesday.

During the trial, Avcı denied having any links to the Gülen movement, saying he made no donations to the Gülen-linked and now-defunct aid organization Kimse Yok Mu and that he had never worked for the Gülen-linked and now-closed Samanyolu TV station.

Avcı’s lawyers requested his release, while the prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of between seven years, six months and 15 years on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

In his testimony Avcı said he was also the producer of another movie in 2015 named “Reis,” (The Chief), a hyped biopic that traces the life of Erdoğan, which he said helped to win three more points for Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the elections.

The court denied Avcı’s request for release and adjourned the trial until Sept. 6.

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