US-based Islamic scholar Gülen, 121 others face life in jail

US-based Islamic scholar Gülen, 121 others face life in jail

US-based Islamic scholar Gülen, 121 others face life in jail

AFP photo

The first court hearing was held in Istanbul on Feb. 1 in a case into the alleged creation of a terrorist organization, with U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen as one of the main defendants, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.  

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish government accuse Gülen of forming and heading a terrorist organization to topple the government, with alleged followers working as insiders in the police, the judiciary, and other state institutions.

A total of 122 defendants, including journalist Emre Uslu and former police chiefs Yurt Atayün and Ömer Köse, will be tried based on a 10,529-page indictment prepared by Istanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor İrfan Fidan.

The 122 defendants are charged with “attempting to topple the government of the Republic of Turkey and preventing it from fully or partially conducting its duties.” Some 48 of them - including Gülen, Uslu, Atayün and Köse - are also charged with “obtaining and revealing confidential state data for political espionage purposes” and face aggravated life sentences. 

Gülen, Uslu and Atayün are also charged with “forming or heading an armed terrorist organization,” “violating the right to privacy,” “obtaining personal data illegally,” “forgery of official documents” and “effacing, concealing or altering criminal evidence.” These charges carry sentences of up to 67 years, while other suspects in the case face jail sentences of varying lengths.  

Some 968 people are named as complainants in the indictment, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, a number of ministers, the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) undersecretary, and a number of other high-level political figures.