Former footballer Zafer Biryol will serve his sentence after being found guilty of links with Gülen

Former footballer and coach Zafer Biryol (46), convicted in 2020 of links to the faith-based Gülen movement and sentenced to six years and three months in prison, was arrested in Istanbul on Thursday, Turkish media reported.

Biryol had been released pending the results of an unsuccessful appeal and must now serve his sentence.

Biryol is accused of using the ByLock smartphone app, once widely available online and seen by the government as a secret communication tool between supporters of the movement since a 2016 coup attempt despite no any evidence that the ByLock messages were related to the failed coup. He is also accused of having an account at Bank Asya, which was shut down by the government after the coup attempt due to his links to the Gülen movement, and of visiting Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen. in the United States in 2006.

Istanbul police and pro-government Turkish media reported that Biryol was “hiding” in a house in Istanbul and was “on the run”. However, Biryol, who was at home at the time of his arrest, tweeted: “It is disgraceful to report that the person you arrested while sitting in his house drinking tea has been absconded. .

Biryol will appear in court for remand to prison after being questioned at the police station.

Biryol has achieved many successes while playing for well-known Turkish teams such as Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Bursaspor.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of orchestrating the failed coup and is branded as a “terrorist organization”, although the movement denies any involvement in the attempted coup. or any terrorist activity.

Erdoğan has been targeting supporters of the Gülen movement since the December 17-25, 2013 corruption investigations, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and those around him.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and a plot against his government, Erdoğan branded the movement a terrorist organization and began targeting its members. He locked up thousands of people, including many prosecutors, judges and police involved in the investigation, as well as journalists who reported on it.

Following the attempted coup, the Turkish government accepted activities such as holding an account at the now closed Bank Asya, one of Turkey’s largest commercial banks in the time, using the encrypted messaging application ByLock, which was available on the Apple App Store and Google Play, and the daily subscription to Zaman or other publications affiliated with members of the movement as references to identify and arrest suspected supporters of the Gülen movement on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

According to a statement by Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ in July, 117,208 people have been sentenced, including 1,366 to life in prison and 1,634 to aggravated life without the possibility of parole following the attempted coup. ‘State. While 87,519 people have been acquitted of charges specifically related to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, according to Bozdağ, there are doubts as to how many people have been acquitted of all charges by a court.

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