122,632 jailed over alleged Gülen links since coup attempt in 2016: justice minister

A total of 122,632 people have been jailed over alleged links to the Gülen movement since a coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, according to figures released by Turkish Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç on Sunday.

During a speech in northern Bartın province Tunç said 67,893 people are also under investigation over alleged Gülen links, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

According to official figures 15,539 people are still behind bars as part of the crackdown on the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by the government of “terrorist” activities.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim 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 the abortive putsch in July 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 24,706 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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