Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Tuesday a total of 332,884 people have been detained, of whom 101,000 were arrested and jailed, due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since a failed coup in 2016, the Tr724 news website reported.
In a statement during an event marking the coup attempt, Soylu said there were currently 19,252 people in prison for links to the movement. According to Soylu, operations against members of the movement will continue in the future.
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 the 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.
“We are continuing our fight against this organization in Turkey and in other countries, and searching for 24,000 fugitives,” Soylu said. “We have increased crackdowns on the movement by 175 percent in comparison to last year, and the number of people who were arrested has increased by 133 percent.”
Throughout his speech, Soylu referred to the Gülen movement as FETÖ, a derogatory term used by the Turkish government.
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers have had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.