Turkey jails nephew of cleric accused of masterminding coup attempt

Istanbul - By Anindita Ramaswamy, - A court in Ankara on Tuesday sentenced a nephew of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric accused by Turkey of masterminding a 2016 coup attempt, on terrorism-related charges.

Selman Gulen was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison for membership in a terrorist organization, state news agency Anadolu reported. The prosecutor had asked for 7.5 to 15 years.
Selman Gulen told the court that he had met his uncle only once in his life, as he denied the allegations. He charged that the court was sentencing him only because he was a relative of Gulen and demanded his acquittal.
Gulen, once an ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, lives in self-imposed exile in the United States.
Ankara blames Gulen and his movement for a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, by a faction in the military. It also considers Gulen's movement to be a terrorist organization and has arrested thousands of people with alleged connections to him.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told parliament on Monday that 15,154 armed forces personnel have been sacked since the failed coup for their links to "FETO," a reference to Gulen's movement. According to Anadolu, only 326 of them have since got their jobs back.
On Tuesday, 70 people were arrested for their alleged connections to the movement in operations across Turkey, Anadolu reported. They included soldiers on active duty, former police officers and a medical student.
The Interior Ministry said in November that nearly 218,000 people have been detained for their alleged links to the abortive putsch.
Turkey has long demanded the extradition of Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania. Washington has so far said that Ankara has not presented sufficient evidence against him.
Gulen has denied any role in the failed coup, which left more than 200 dead and 2,000 injured.
On Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Erdogan and US President Donald Trump discussed the extradition issue on the sidelines of the recent G20 summit in Buenos Aires.
"Last time when we met in Buenos Aires, President Trump told Erdogan that they have been working on that, but we need to see concrete steps," Cavusoglu said.
A senior White House official confirmed to dpa on Monday night: "While meeting with President Erdogan at the G20, the President (Trump) did not commit to extradite Fethullah Gulen."

Tuesday, December 18th 2018
By Anindita Ramaswamy,

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