Senior figures and lower-ranking members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) were handed down prison terms yesterday in trials across Turkey. FETÖ is accused of carrying out the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that killed 250 people. Prosecutors say the group used its infiltrators in the military to orchestrate the putsch attempt.
In the capital Ankara, the 17th High Criminal Court sentenced Fevzi Kalaycı to 10 years in prison for FETÖ membership. Kalaycı is accused of serving as a "provincial imam" in the central provinces of Karaman and Yozgat and the northern province of Düzce. The group uses the term "imam" to refer to its senior figures responsible for different activities. Kalaycı denied the charges and also claimed he did not use ByLock despite evidence to the contrary. ByLock, an encrypted messaging app developed and used by FETÖ members, is among the most important piece of evidence to indict the suspects. Authorities say FETÖ used it to relay messages to followers and coordinate illegal activities.
Five defendants, including four people who were remanded in custody, were handed down prison sentences between three years and four months to 12 years in another FETÖ trial in Eskişehir province. The suspects were "secret imams" for the group's infiltrators in the Turkish Air Forces, prosecutors say. They controlled military officers loyal to the terrorist group in their capacity, according to the indictment. The court handed down 12-year prison sentences to three defendants while another defendant who invoked the remorse law was sentenced to three years and four months. The remorse law allows defendants to have a lenient sentence in exchange for confessing their ties to the group and collaborating with authorities for the capture of other suspects in the cases. The suspect was released based on time spent in custody awaiting trial. Another defendant in the case was sentenced to six years in prison for being a member of FETÖ.
In the southern city of Antalya, a couple was sentenced for their membership to FETÖ. The court handed down eight years in prison to Hasan Ece. His wife Zeynep, who was released pending trial in previous hearings, was sentenced to six years. In the southern city of Gaziantep, two teachers were sentenced to six years and three months in prison for FETÖ membership. The two defendants were accused of using ByLock and funding the terrorist group.
FETÖ is accused of carrying out the coup attempt through its infiltrators in the military who were controlled by imams. Adil Öksüz, the group's Air Force imam, who allegedly masterminded the attempt with putschist generals, remains at large.
Tens of thousands of people were detained or arrested for their links to FETÖ and their role in the putsch attempt. Hundreds were sentenced to life and hundreds of others, mostly conscripts and cadets, have been released.
Although thousands were detained, arrested or expelled from the army after the coup attempt for their links to the group, authorities believe there may be more yet to be detected due to FETÖ's high levels of secrecy.
FETÖ had disguised itself as a charity with religious undertones for decades and is known for its widespread infiltration of the military, judiciary, law enforcement and bureaucracy. When the government moved to weed out what it called "a parallel state" of Gülenists from those institutions, the group moved to seize power. In 2013, it tried to topple the government through its infiltrators in the police and judiciary. Investigations after the 2013 attempts revealed the group was involved in a diverse array of crimes, from money laundering to illegal wiretapping, as well as sham trials used to stifle the group's critics.
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