A Turkish court on Friday jailed a mother seeking justice for her cadet son imprisoned for life over the 2016 coup bid.
Police detained Melek Cetinkaya, the mother of former air cadet Furkan Cetinkaya, following a broadcast on pro-government media outlet Akit TV.
Cetinkaya’s lawyer said that the court arrested her for disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization.
The pro-government Sabah daily reported that the arrest came over Cetinkaya’s apparent refusal to label self-exiled US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen as a terrorist, describing Gulenists, based on her experience, as virtuous people.
Gulen is a U.S-based cleric accused by Ankara of orchestrating a coup attempt in July 2016.
Asked by the Akit TV show host if she saw Gulen as a terrorist, she replied, “I don’t know Fethullah Gulen, therefore I can’t say if he’s a terrorist or not. But as you said, I have neighbors and friends who were his followers. I believe they’re decent people. I don’t think they’re terrorists.”
The host of the program Fatin Dagistanli broke up the broadcast after Cetinkaya criticized the reasoning behind life sentences given to cadets and junior officers on coup charges, reminding that current Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar and former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim have not faced any coup charges despite being lieutenants in the 1980 military coup.
Melek Cetinkaya is the mother of Furkan Talha Cetinkaya, a 19-year-old military academy student, who was arrested following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, and sentenced to life in prison.
Mother Cetinkaya has sought justice for her son and other cadets on various levels, by holding individual demonstrations in Ankara’s Liberty Square which were often interrupted by police taking her into custody, and organizing a march from Ankara to Istanbul’s Silivri Prison, where her son is incarcerated.
Cetinkaya maintains that her son, Furkan Cetinkaya, and other cadets who received life sentences were not even aware there was a coup in Turkey at the time.
A total of 355 military academy students have been so far sentenced to life imprisonment over their alleged involvement in the 2016 coup that targeted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The Turkish government accuses the Gulen movement (a Muslim group led by Fethullah Gulen) of being behind the attempt, which resulted in the deaths of 251 people.
According to official figures, since the failed coup, more than 500,000 people have been detained, and more than 150,000 have been dismissed from their jobs. Many thousands have fled the country.