Court rules for continuation of anti-government preacher’s detention

An Adana court ruled for the continuation of the detention of Alparslan Kuytul, chairman of a religious foundation in Turkey who is a government critic, according to a report by the T24 news portal on Friday.

The Adana 4th High Criminal Court ruled on Friday for the continuation of Kuytul’s detention in the Bolu F-Type Prison.

The preacher, who is also the leader of the Furkan Foundation, has been a fierce critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in his speeches since 2014.

Furkan Foundation is an establishment of a religious community that has been openly operating in Turkey since 1994.

In February 2018, Kuytul was detained for the first time for allegedly spreading the propaganda of the outlawed Gulen movement and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

If convicted, Kuytul faces a sentence of 20 years in prison on charges that include spreading propaganda of a terrorist organization.

The religious foundation leader took part in the hearing via an online video conference system called SEGBIS, and defended himself against the charges, demanding his acquittal. However, the court ruled on Friday to keep him in custody pending trial.

Members of the Furkan Foundation gathered around the courthouse in Adana on Friday, demanding the release of Kuytul, who has been in prison for 455 days.

The Adana Governor’s Office banned gatherings, press meetings, sit-in protests and the like in the city on May 10, 11, and 12, according to a news report by the Evrensel daily on Friday.

Armored vehicles and water cannons were present in several locations in the city center so that the police could intervene in the event of protests by members of the foundation.

A large group of the Furkan Foundation’s members who gathered around the courthouse gave a press statement after waiting several hours. The crowd continued to wait around the courthouse after giving their statement, despite police warnings for them to leave the area.

Police officers then intervened and detained one of the members.

Following an attempted coup targeting Erdogan and his AKP in July 2016, the Turkish government has jailed its critics on terrorist propaganda charges, using speeches, social media posts and newspaper columns as evidence.

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