Former intel official sentenced to 23 years on spying, terrorism charges

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A former official at Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has been handed down a prison sentence of 23 years, four months on spying and terrorism charges due to his alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in 2016, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Former MİT official Enver Altaylı, 76, was sentenced to 13 years, four months on charges of espionage and an additional 10 years on charges of terrorist organization membership due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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.

Altaylı, who was arrested in 2017, had been standing trial at the Ankara 16th High Criminal Court since January 2020 along with two other defendants, another former MİT official named Mehmet Barıner and Seda Chamatzoglou, a travel company employee, who was not under arrest. Altaylı’s son-in-law, Metin Can Yılmaz, who is in pretrial detention, is being tried separately.

Barıner was also given a prison sentence of 12 years, six months on charges of spying and an additional eight years, nine months on charges of terrorist organization membership. Chamatzoglou was acquitted of charges of aiding a terrorist organization.

Altaylı and Yılmaz are accused of trying to help Barıner flee abroad after he was dismissed from his job due to his alleged links to the Gülen movement following the failed coup. They allegedly sought Chamatzoglou’s assistance to help Barıner flee abroad.

The indictment, drafted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, claims Altaylı had contact with a number of CIA officials and corresponded with them on social media about political developments in Turkey and gave them reports on the same.

Altaylı is a well-known figure in the country’s recent history who worked closely with former presidents Süleyman Demirel and Turgut Özal. He was arrested on August 27, 2017. He filed numerous complaints claiming that he was tortured in police custody and was held in prison in appalling conditions tantamount to torture.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch.

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