First German convicted over Turkey coup bid: report | News | DW | 11.09.2018
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First German convicted over Turkey coup bid: report

Turkey has jailed a German national on charges related to the July 2016 failed coup attempt for the first time, according to media reports. The man was convicted last year but it's only just become public now.

A German national has been in a Turkish prison for more than a year as a result of the post-coup crackdown, German media reported on Tuesday.

Nejat U. was sentenced to nine years and nine months in prison by a Turkish court in July 2017, according to WDR, NDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Read more: Opinion: German-Turkish relations no easy feat

The 55-year-old is the first confirmed German citizen to be convicted of terrorism for alleged ties to the movement run by US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen. The Turkish government blames the Gulen movement for the July 2016 failed coup bid.  

It is unclear why Nejat U.'s imprisonment has only now become public. The German Foreign Ministry refused to comment on the legality of the sentence but said its consulate in Izmir has been looking after the case.

According to the charges seen by the media outlets, Nejat was accused of belonging to a business association with links to the Gulen movement. In addition, he allegedly had an account in a bank tied to the Gulen movement and his children attended a Gulenist affiliated school.

Nejat U. denied any involvement in terrorism.

Read more: Turkey's Gulen movement on the rise in Germany

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The Gulen movement has tens of thousands of supporters around the globe and operates businesses, schools and media outlets. Most Gulen-affiliated institutions in Turkey have been shut down or confiscated in the wake of the coup bid. Tens of thousands of suspected Gulen supporters have also been imprisoned or expelled from their jobs.

Nejat U. reportedly came from Turkey to Germany to study and lived in the western city of Aachen for many years. His wife is a doctor and he has three children.

In 2000, he returned to Turkey and established a business in his hometown that he ran until being detained in April 2017. He reportedly is a German national and had given up Turkish citizenship.

According to relatives, he has a so-called "blue card" that former Turkish nationals can apply for. This gives them privileges in Turkey such as inheritance and a residence permit.

Alongside Nejat U., seven German nationals are known by WDR, NDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung to be detained in Turkey on political charges related to the coup attempt. Three of them possess only German citizenship. None have been convicted.

The detention of German nationals in Turkey has strained relations between Berlin and Ankara. A number of those imprisoned have since been released after the German government applied pressure on Turkish authorities.

The issue of detained German nationals is expected to be one of several areas of discussion when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes an official state visit in Germany at the end of September.

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