Fethullah Gülen’s nephew Mehmet Mezher Gülen was sentenced to 21 years in jail on charges of leading a terror group.
Under arrest for 23 months in an Izmir prison, Mezher Gülen was given 21 years of prison term on April 26, 2018.
“I am accused just because my surname is Gulen and because I worked at the now-closed Yamanlar College. The truth will be revealed one day. The facts about my case are ignored. This is a political case. …I have never acted with malice aforethought. There is no [illegal] act associated with me. I worked as an educator for 28 years. The accusations raised against me are not enough to convict me of membership and leadership of a terror group either,” Mezher Gulen told the court asking for his acquittal.
“If you are going to sentence me, I would like to be released until my conviction is upheld by the upper court. Because, my mother has walking disability and my sister is sick. They need me,” he added.
The court overseeing his case ruled to continue his arrest.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement, inspired by Gülen, and designated the group a terrorist organization. The movement denies involvement in the coup attempt and any terror activities.
The government has so far detained more than 150,000 people and arrested some 60,000 over the faintest –true or alleged– links to the Gülen movement. Gülen, himself, have had his several relatives jailed so far.
Critics often blast the government for a massive purge it is carrying out that violates the principle of individual criminal responsibility.