A 81-year-old man who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease was detained by police in the Turkish province of İzmir on Monday due to his links to the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016, the tr724 news website reported.
Yusuf Pekmezci was in hiding for three years due to a widespread crackdown launched by the Turkish government against the movement’s followers.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of orchestrating the failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Pro-government media outlets were running stories for a while targeting Pekmezci and presenting him as one of the leading figures of the movement based on interviews he gave earlier in which he talked about his love for the movement and Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Turkish cleric whose views inspired the movement.
In addition to Alzheimer’s, Pekmezci also suffers from high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
Pekmezci, who worked as a merchant in İzmir for years, is known for his philanthropy, which included giving scholarships to students in need and opening dormitories for students.
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 130,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 30,000 others are still in jail and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.