Two nephews of Fetullah Gülen, the fugitive leader of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) were sentenced to 12 years in prison each for membership in a terrorist group yesterday.
The 29th High Criminal Court in the capital Ankara handed down sentences to Şamil and Tavus Bin Keysan Gülen who rejected the allegations.
Şamil Gülen was accused of serving as "military imam" of FETÖ, a term used to describe the group's handlers for its military infiltrators. He claimed his phone contacts with military officers linked to FETÖ was because of his job as an employee of a telecoms company in charge of military phone lines. Tavus Bin Keysan Gülen also denied his phone contacts with FETÖ members, blaming his father for the phone calls.
Fetullah Gülen, a prime suspect in all cases related to FETÖ, faces multiple life sentences. He lives in Pennsylvania in the U.S.; Turkey has repeatedly asked for his extradition.
His terrorist group, which posed as the religious Hizmet (Service) Movement for decades, had attempted to seize power in multiple coup attempts over the past six years when the government moved to curb its widespread clout in Turkey. Since then, a string of investigations disclosed that Gülenists were involved in a wide array of crimes, from money laundering to orchestrating sham trials to imprisoning critics and conspiring against anyone opposing FETÖ.
FETÖ is accused of planting its members in the police, judiciary, army and bureaucracy. Disguising their ties to the group, followers managed to rise to the top ranks of these fields. They became generals in the army and senior police chiefs. Through "imams," FETÖ monitored the infiltrators and gave them orders. Imams are often unassuming figures, such as a shopkeeper in a small town or a teacher, but they hold immense power within the group, commanding police chiefs, generals and high-ranking bureaucrats.