Some 131 Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) suspects were handed down jail sentences Wednesday ranging from three to 45 years for illegally wiretapping high profile targets, including politicians, journalists and business people.
The 4th High Criminal court in the capital Ankara sentenced 126 of the 211 defendants to three years and nine months for "membership of an armed terrorist organization," while 105 of the same defendants were handed down an additional term of four years six months for "forgery of legal documents."
The court went on further to issue sentences to 92 of the defendants, increasing their jail time by seven years and six months for "illegal wiretapping."
Former police intelligence chief Ramazan Akyürek, the most high-profile suspect in the case, was sentenced to a total of 45 years in prison, while former deputy director Gürsel Aktepe was handed down a 27-year sentence.
Former chiefs of police Yurt Atayün and Ali Fuat Yılmazer were each sentenced to seven years six months in prison.
Meanwhile, the court decided to acquit 37 of the suspects while separating the cases of 43 others, including a number of individuals being tried in absentia, having evaded justice.
According to the indictment, the wiretapped targets included President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's chief adviser Yalçın Topçu, former ministers Koray Aydın, Abdullatif Şener and Namık Kemal Zeybek, former general Hurşit Tolon, businesspeople Ali Koç, Vuslat Sabancı, Nihat Özdemir, and dozens of journalists and several lawmakers.
The prosecutors said FETÖ suspects wiretapped government officials and encrypted phones to infiltrate state institutions in order to overthrow the democratically elected government.
The terrorist group is known for its widespread infiltration of the army, law enforcement, judiciary and bureaucracy. In December 2013, its members in the police force and courts attempted to topple the government under the guise of a graft probe targeting government officials. It was the first time the terrorist group openly waged war against the government using its infiltrators.
When it failed, they made another attempt on July 15, 2016, employing infiltrators in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to seize power by force. A total of 251 people were killed and nearly 2,200 others were injured in FETÖ's bloodiest attempt to date. What followed was a barrage of investigations against the terrorist group. Turkey has lifted the state of emergency imposed after the coup attempt but, three years on, operations continue against FETÖ.
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