16 people in 4 cities detained over alleged Gülen links

Turkish police on Monday detained 16 people in raids carried out across four cities, including Ankara, for alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by the government of “terrorism,” TR724 news website reported.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for the 16 individuals on allegations of association with the movement, based on an analysis of digital materials seized in previous investigations and statements made under the effective remorse law.

Turkish 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 an abortive putsch in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The crackdown on the real or perceived members of the Gülen movement continues unabated even seven years of the coup attempt despite rulings from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which found rights violations in the prosecution of the Gülen-affiliated people and criminal evidence used against them to be legally insufficient.

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 civil servants as well as more than 24,000 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, which coincided with a notable increase in the number of Turkish nationals granted asylum in Europe since 2016.

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