A court in Turkey has given jail terms to a former governor of Istanbul and an ex-police commissioner over affiliation to the movement of the US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt.
A judicial source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Saturday that Istanbul’s 30th Heavy Criminal Court had sentenced former governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu to three years, one month and 15 days in prison, while ex-police commissioner Hüseyin Çapkın got two years and one month in jail.
Mutlu denied any links to the Gulen movement, and strongly rejected all charges.
“Everything about me has been analyzed. It has been seen that I am transparent. I have never had a relationship with this [Gulen] movement. For my whole life, I have adhered to the constitution and the law. There is no tangible evidence in the indictment in relation to [the] Gulen movement,” he said.
Mutlu was arrested on August 5, 2016 along with nine other suspects, shortly after the botched putsch.
Çapkın, who was arrested on September 3, 2016, has also dismissed the charges brought against him.
“I’m not a part of such an organization. I’ve never received help from [such] an organization during my career. I’ve never sent my children to any schools belonging to this group,” he said.
During the botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.
Ankara has accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country’s institutions, particularly the army, police and the judiciary.
Additionally, the Ankara government has outlawed his movement, and has branded it as the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
Gulen has denounced the “despicable putsch” and reiterated that he had no role in it.
The 76-year-old cleric has called on Ankara to end its “witch hunt” of his followers, a move he said is aimed at “weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to President Erdogan and his regime.”