Main opposition leader’s lawyer faces up to 40 years over Gülen links

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Celal Çelik

An indictment drafted by an İstanbul prosecutor seeks a jail sentence of between 11 and 40 years for one of the lawyers of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu over alleged links to the Gülen movement, according to Turkish media reports.

The lawyer, Celal Çelik, is accused of aiding a terrorist organization without membership in it, insulting a public official and spreading the propaganda of a terrorist organization.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a 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.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is listed as a co-plaintiff in Çelik’s indictment.

The indictment states that Çelik resigned from his post as a judge in 2011 and made a TL 17,000 donation to the Association for the Union of Judges and Prosecutors (YARSAV), which was closed down by the Turkish government following the coup attempt due to its alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement.

Four hundred seventeen phone calls between Çelik and former YARSAV head Murat Arslan are also cited in the indictment as evidence of his links to the Gülen movement.

In January 2019 Arslan, who was jailed in the aftermath of the coup attempt, was handed down a prison sentence of 10 years on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the Gülen 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.

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