[UPDATE] Court returns former ambassador to prison upon prosecutor’s objection to release verdict

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Gürcan Balık (C).

A court has reversed its verdict of release pending appeal of purged ambassador Gürcan Balık, who was convicted of terrorist organization membership a few hours earlier and transferred from pretrial detention to house arrest, upon the objection of a prosecutor.

The Habertürk daily reported on the objection of the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday. Balık, a purged ambassador and advisor to former President Abdullah Gül and former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, will be sent back to Sincan Prison.

Balık on Thursday was convicted of membership in an armed terrorist organization and sentenced to six years, three months in prison due to his links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of plotting a failed coup on July 15, 2016.

In his defense Balık said there was no evidence of his membership in a terrorist organization and asked for his release and acquittal, adding: “I have served my country and nation for 20 years. There is not a single charge against me based on my career.”

Former Ambassador Balık was among many civil servants who were the subject of a witch-hunt by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government even before the failed coup. The government held the Gülen movement responsible for the corruption probes of December 2013 that implicated Erdoğan’s family.

Balık was dismissed amid Erdoğan’s accusations of a “parallel state” within the state, targeting the Gülen movement. After July 15, Balık was arrested and had since been in pre-trial detention in Ankara.

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