A court in Turkey sentenced a lawyer for Kaynak Holding, a conglomerate accused of funding the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), to 12 years in prison over links to the terrorist group.
Istanbul's 33rd High Criminal Court issued its final verdict Wednesday, handing down the prison sentence to Hürol Karadaş for "membership in an armed terrorist organization."
The defendant was acquitted from charges of "attempting to disrupt the constitutional order" due to deficiency of definitive and convincing evidence, but was convicted and sentenced to eight years for "being a member of an armed terrorist group" and "founding and leading an armed terrorist group."
The court board ruled for an additional four years on the grounds that the offenses were terrorism related and called for the Public Prosecutor's Office in Istanbul to file a criminal complaint against the defendant for "making propaganda for a terrorist organization," based on evidence obtained from social media accounts belonging to Karadaş.
The prosecutor in charge of the case said that the defendant had a ByLock account – an encrypted messaging app believed to be developed by members of FETÖ – and that his account balance had increased greatly in Bank Asya – the bank that acted as terror group's money launderers – on orders given by the terror group.
The prosecutor said that the defendant's not guilty plea was not accepted based on the evidence that was obtained from the ByLock account, the statements of informed witnesses and other documents.
"The defendant acted as a legal relations coordinator at FETÖ-linked Kaynak Holding, and used his legal position to direct FETÖ members to act on behalf of the terror group," the prosecutor said.
Prosecutors say Kaynak Holding is at the heart of FETÖ's money transactions and funding of the group's activities.
An Istanbul court in November 2015 ordered the appointment of trustees to administer the holding, which covered 19 subsidiaries, one foundation and one association.
Before and after the coup attempt, authorities clamped down on the terrorist group's business arm and appointed trustees for thousands of companies accused of funneling funds to FETÖ. The group depends on a global network of schools and businesses and "donations" by followers to finance its activities.