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Once-praised district governor receives prison sentence for Gülen links

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Kadir Güntepe, a former governor who was once praised by prominent government figures, was sentenced to six years, three months in prison on terrorism charges, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.

The former governor of the Beytüşşebap district in southeastern Turkey was handed down the sentence on conviction of membership in the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating a failed coup attempt in 2016 and labels as a terrorist group.

Güntepe was detained in January 2017 and subsequently arrested for allegedly using ByLock, a smart phone application that Turkish authorities claim is a communication tool between members of the Gülen movement.

In his defense, Güntepe said the ByLock data submitted to the court was false.

He demanded his acquittal, saying he always fought against terrorism during his tenure.

Güntepe had previously come to public attention after then-Mayor of Ankara Melih Gökçek praised him on Twitter.

“We are proud of you, Kadir Güntepe,” Gökçek had tweeted, calling on people to follow him on Twitter to see “how well Beytüşşebap is doing.”

In a post-coup purge, more than 150,000 civil servants were removed from public service over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The movement denies having a role in the abortive putsch and had called for an international investigation into it.

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