The December 26 trial of arrested Turkish journalists Ahmet Şık and Nedim Şener has pushed a shadowy organization known as the Gülen movement to the forefront of public attention in Turkey. The group’s influence has long been an open secret. Now, its weight is being felt at a time when the country’s democratic credentials are increasingly being called into question.
Şık and Şener were investigating the Gülen movement when they were arrested this past March for alleged membership in a group of supposed pro-military conspirators, known as Ergenekon. Alleged group members are charged with plotting to overthrow the government. Many Turkish journalists and analysts believe that the real reason for the detention of Şık and Şener was their investigation of the Gülen movement, led by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, who espouses a moderate form of Islam.
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Justin Vela is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.