10-year jail sentence for opposition leader’s former adviser

A former adviser to Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has been sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail.

The court ruled that Fatih Gürsul, an associate professor at Istanbul University, was a member of the “FETÖ/PDY terrorist organisation in the academia,” Turkish newspaper Dünya reported.

Turkey considers the movement following U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen a terrorist organisation, and blames its members for the July 2016 failed coup attempt. Gülen has condemned the coup and denies any involvement.

In his defence statement at the sentencing hearing, Gürsul denied being a Gülen follower and said, “as a scientist who believes in evolution, how can I be a member of a dogmatic organisation?”

“I don’t have an account at Bank Asya, and I have never had the ByLock app on my phone,” Gürsul was quoted as saying by the newspaper, listing the criteria that Turkish prosecutors reportedly use as evidence of Gülen Movement membership.

Court sentenced Gürsul and nine other academics to increased jail sentences between 7 to 10 years, as they were charged with “acts of terror,” the ruling said.