Turkish court gives life sentences to more than two dozen over 2016 botched putsch
Iran Press TV
Thu Jan 11, 2018 03:27PM
A court in Turkey has sentenced more than two dozen people to life imprisonment on charges of affiliation to a movement led by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt.
A judicial source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday that a high criminal court in the capital Ankara had handed down 13 defendants aggravated life sentences, while 15 others would serve life imprisonment for attempted takeover of Turk Telekom building in Istanbul during the putsch.
The source added that the convicts were also given a total of 1,519-year jail term for "deprivation of people's freedom."
During the botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.
Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country's institutions, particularly the army, police and the judiciary.
Additionally, the Ankara government has outlawed his movement, and has branded it as the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
Gulen has denounced the "despicable putsch" and reiterated that he had no role in it.
"Accusations against me related to the coup attempt are baseless and politically-motivated slanders," he said in a statement.
The 76-year-old cleric has also called on Ankara to end its "witch hunt" of his followers, a move he said is aimed at "weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to President Erdogan and his regime."
Turkish officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen, but their demands have not been taken heed of.
Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.
Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.
The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.
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