Police armed with heavy weapons and drones raided the homes of 15 people – mainly university students — in the southern Turkish province of Mersin on Wednesday as a result of detention warrants issued due to the suspects’ alleged links to the Gülen movement, Turkish media reported.
The Mersin Public Prosecutor’s Office had issued detention warrants for 15 people for allegedly “disseminating terrorist propaganda” and for sending text messages considered by the authorities to be evidence of their affiliation with the movement.
Fourteen people were detained in the operation conducted by the special police.
Police confiscated Qurans, cell phones and digital material belonging to the students.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.
According to a statement from the Turkish interior minister, a total of 319,587 people have been detained while 99,962 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup.