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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 October 2018

Brother of cleric accused of Turkey coup jailed  

Kutbettin Gulen was sentenced to over 10 years in prison for links to the outlawed Gulenist movement

A handout picture released by Zaman Daily shows exiled Turkish Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen at his residence on September 24, 2013 in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. Gulen, the exiled Muslim cleric at the heart of a bitter feud with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, denied on January 27, 2014 allegations that he was behind a vast graft scandal roiling the government. AFP PHOTO/ZAMAN DAILY/SELAHATTIN SEVI == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/ZAMAN DAILY/SELAHATTIN SEVI" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE == / AFP PHOTO / ZAMAN DAILY / SELAHATTIN SEVI
A handout picture released by Zaman Daily shows exiled Turkish Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen at his residence on September 24, 2013 in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. Gulen, the exiled Muslim cleric at the heart of a bitter feud with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, denied on January 27, 2014 allegations that he was behind a vast graft scandal roiling the government. AFP PHOTO/ZAMAN DAILY/SELAHATTIN SEVI == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/ZAMAN DAILY/SELAHATTIN SEVI" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE == / AFP PHOTO / ZAMAN DAILY / SELAHATTIN SEVI

The brother of the Muslim preacher Turkey says masterminded an attempted coup in 2016 was jailed on Monday for membership of a terrorist organisation.

Kutbettin Gulen was sentenced to 10-and-a-half years for belonging to the group led by his elder brother Fethullah, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

He has been held in prison since his arrest in October 2016 in the western coastal city of Izmir.

Fethullah Gulen, 77, who has lived in the US since 1999, leads a global movement that claims to promote religious dialogue and consists of hundreds of schools and businesses. Ankara says the group has used its wealth and influence to place followers in the Turkish state apparatus, particularly the police and justice system, in a bid to wrestle power from President Recept Tayyip Erdogan.

During the early years of Mr Erdogan’s rule, the movement’s supporters in the judiciary collaborated with the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) against Turkey’s military – a bastion of secularism – in a series of trials.

But in 2012, cracks began to appear in the alliance and a year later Gulenist prosecutors launched a corruption investigation that targeted members of Mr Erdogan’s inner circle.

On July 15, 2016, military officers the state says were loyal to Mr Gulen launched a coup attempt that led to the deaths of around 250 people as soldiers and helicopters opened fire on crowds as they flocked to the streets to resist the takeover.

Mr Gulen has denied any role in staging the failed putsch, which was followed by waves of arrests and the dismissal of thousands of alleged Gulenists in the military, police, judiciary and civil service. According to the Turkey Purge website, which uses official sources to compile figures on the crackdown, more than 170,000 were dismissed from their jobs and over 220,000 detained.

Kutbettin Gulen was arrested at a relative’s home in Izmir’s Gaziemir neighbourhood on October 2, 2016, by police acting on a tip-off that he had recently returned to Turkey.

He is one of six siblings. Apart from Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, the location of his other brothers and sisters are unknown.

Ankara has long sought the extradition of the former imam and the US’s refusal to hand him over is one of the main reasons for the breakdown in US-Turkey relations since the failed coup.

According to the prosecution at Izmir’s 14th High Criminal Court, Kutbettin Gulen, who followed proceedings via video link from Denizli prison, was a member of an “armed terrorist organisation” known as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation.

The court heard that he was involved in transferring funds to Bank Asya, which was closed down a week after the attempted coup over its links to the Gulen movement. He was also accused of holding an executive position at a printing subsidiary of Kaynak Holding, which was seized by the government in November 2015 for Gulenist ties.

Kutbettin Gulen denied the charge and claimed he was only being prosecuted because of his family ties.