A court in the capital Ankara handed down prison terms ranging from seven months to 14 years to 70 defendants in a case involving mass cheating in a 2010 civil servant exam. The Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) is accused of supplying questions and answers to its members in Public Personnel Selection Exam (KPSS), which was viewed as a gateway to infiltration into Turkish bureaucracy by the group.
Twenty other defendants were acquitted in the case, while a separate trial will be held for 15 fugitive defendants. The prosecutor in the case had asked the court for prison terms up to 35 years for some defendants for membership in a terrorist group and fraud targeting public agencies and 15 years for 24 defendants for membership in a terrorist group.
Most defendants were wives of military officers linked to the terrorist group. Two were spouses of officers sent by putschists to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. The coup attempt is blamed on military infiltrators of the terrorist group.
On Tuesday and yesterday, 735 people were arrested for another instance of mass cheating in a past exam by FETÖ members. Suspects were mostly police officers who rose in the ranks through promotion exam thanks to being supplied questions and answers by FETÖ members before the exam. That exam was also held in 2010.
FETÖ is already implicated in a string of cheating allegations in public exams, and dozens of its members were jailed for cheating in the 2010 KPSS in separate trials. The group is accused of using the exams as a stepping stone to the public sector where many of its members found jobs. Multiple investigations into the group's methods for cheating found that FETÖ leaked questions and answers to young members, either handpicked by the group's leaders or eager to join the public sector. Former members of the group had testified in other cases that "brothers" or "imams," point men and handlers for FETÖ, provided them questions and answers for exams. Civilians are believed to have gained access to well-protected questions and answers through infiltrators in bodies tasked with organizing the exams.