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3 military cadets free after spending 5 years in prison on coup charges

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Three former military cadets who had been incarcerated in İstanbul’s notorious Silivri Prison for more than five years on coup charges have been released based on a court decision last week, a platform defending the rights of jailed military cadets announced on Twitter on Tuesday.

“Released! Aykan, Osman and Taha, welcome. Following their unfair imprisonment of five years, three of our friends have returned. We will surely continue to defend the rights of our remaining friends. Keep in mind, this is not the time to look back and get disappointed but rather to look to the future and be happy,” the military cadets’ committee tweeted following the release of the three military cadets from prison in the early hours of Tuesday.

Former military cadets Osman Uludağ, Taha Türedi and Aykan Perktaş took part in raids on the buildings of Turkish state broadcaster TRT and satellite TV provider Digiturk on the night of a coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016. They were earlier handed down life sentences by a high criminal court in İstanbul, which were upheld by a regional appeals court in January 2018. However, the cadets are now being retried after the Supreme Court of Appeals reversed the convictions in April.

The Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that the cadets be retried on charges of assisting the crime of violation of the constitution, which requires a lesser sentence.

A high criminal court in İstanbul ruled for the release of the three cadets at a hearing last Wednesday, while the trial of the remaining military cadets was adjourned until early December.

A total of 259 military cadets were detained on coup charges on July 16, 2016 and were arrested four days later. The cadets were indicted a year after they were put in pretrial detention, and their trial was concluded in May 2018. One hundred seventy-eight of the cadets were given life sentences on charges of attempting to overturn the constitutional order and attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and parliament by use of force as well as membership in a terrorist organization.

The cadets say they didn’t know a coup attempt was underway and were acting on orders from their superiors, who told them there was a terrorist attack.

The military coup attempt killed 251 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the abortive putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the faith-based Gülen movement. The movement strongly denies any involvement.

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