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Turkish religious leader acquitted of terror charges

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Alparslan Kuytul, the head of a religious community critical of the Turkish government, was acquitted on Tuesday of charges of disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization, Turkish media reported.

The Adana 11th High Criminal Court acquitted Furkan Foundation Chairman Kuytul, a vocal critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was facing a 20-year prison sentence, along with two other executives of the foundation.

After 22 months of incarceration, Kuytul was released pending trial in December 2019.

Kuytul claims he was targeted for criticizing a crackdown launched by Erdoğan on the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Erdoğan accuses the group of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016 when rogue soldiers attempted a takeover that saw more than 250 killed.

Gülen and the movement deny any involvement in the abortive putsch, and critics accuse Erdoğan of targeting dissent under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

Ankara’s post-coup crackdown saw the removal of more than 135,000 people from state jobs and investigations into some 600,000 people on allegations of terrorism. Some 30,000 are still in jail as part of the sweeping purge.

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