Turkey sentences 131 to jail over illegal wiretapping, forgery for Gülen movement

A Turkish court handed down on Wednesday prison terms to 131 suspects accused of illegal wiretapping on behalf of an outlawed religious movement.

The suspects accused of wiretapping dozens of people, including politicians and journalists, to aid the Gülen movement, received prison sentences ranging from three years and nine months to 45 years, Birgün newspaper reported. 

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of orchestrating the 2016 coup attempt, which killed over 250 people and injured over 2,000. Ankara designates the group a terrorist organisation and has intensified a crackdown on suspected Gülenists since the failed putsch.

A total of 126 suspects received jail sentences ranging from three to 10 years in prison over membership in a terrorist organisation with over 100 also sentenced for forging official documents and 92 for illegal wiretapping, Birgün said.

The former intelligence chief of Turkish police, Ramazan Akyürek, former intelligence department deputy head Gürsel Aktepe, former Ankara deputy police chief Lokman Kırcı and former chief of Istanbul police intelligence Ali Fuat Yılmazer are among the suspects sentenced by the court.

The Gülen movement is accused of long-running scheme to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by infiltrating Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.