Former top military judge sentenced to 7 years in prison over Gülen links

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Salih Buçukoğlu, a former member of Turkey’s Supreme Military Administrative Court, has been handed down a prison sentence of seven-and-a-half years on terrorism charges due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement, the Kronos news website reported.

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.

Buçukoğlu was tried by the 9th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals. He was not in pre-trial detention.

During Monday’s hearing the former judge denied the accusations against him and asked for his acquittal. The court also ruled for the continuation of a travel ban for the former judge in addition to the prison sentence on charges of terrorist organization membership.

The court’s decision can be appealed.

Burçakoğlu was one of the more than 130,000 civil servants removed from their jobs due to alleged Gülen links following the coup attempt.

Since the abortive putsch, followers of the Gülen movement have been subjected to a massive crackdown, with the Turkish government and pro-government media outlets demonizing its members.

According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in November, a total of 292,000 people have been detained while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there were 25,655 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed due to links to the Gülen movement.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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