Director given 6-year jail sentence for movie portraying near execution of Erdoğan

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A Turkish court has handed down a prison sentence of six years, three months to a filmmaker on charges of membership in a terrorist organization for directing a movie that portrayed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan having a gun pointed at his head, the Hürriyet daily reported on Friday.

The trial of director Ali Avcı was concluded by the İstanbul 36th High Criminal Court on Friday. He faced up to 15 years in jail on charges of leading a terrorist organization.

Avcı was convicted of membership in the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the failed putsch.

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 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 as he prays and Erdoğan’s family members killed by coup plotters.

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

The court said Avcı had been carrying out “public perception management in line with the core goals of the terrorist organization” through his movie, the Reuters news agency reported.

Avcı denied the charges and said Erdoğan himself had repeatedly said he was the target of the failed coup, which included airstrikes near the presidential palace in Ankara, although Erdoğan was absent at the time.

“If I was trying to make terrorist propaganda, I would have shown Erdoğan making plans to flee, instead of the praying scene,” Avcı told the court.

More than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial and 150,000 state workers including teachers, judges and soldiers have been suspended or dismissed since the coup attempt.

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