Popular Turkish historian and author Talha Uğurluel, who was arrested on terrorism charges in December due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement, was released from jail pending trial on Thursday, the Diken news website reported.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Uğurluel delivered his defense at the latest hearing of his trial at the İstanbul 28th High Criminal Court on Thursday in which he faces a prison sentence of between seven-and-a-half and 15 years on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.
In his defense the historian, who frequently used to appear on TV stations affiliated with the Gülen movement, which are now all closed, said he has no links to the Gülen movement although he worked at the Gülen-linked Kaynak Holding and Fatih University.
Uğurluel also claimed that a woman named Beyza T. was the reason for his imprisonment because he turned down her advances for a romantic relationship with him. He said this woman paid money to some news websites to have stories published about him portraying him as linked to the Gülen movement.
The court decided to release Uğurluel pending trial, although he faces a travel ban and has to check in at a police station once a week.
Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, as a result of which more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 50,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.