Turkish police detained 38 people in raids carried out across the country for alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by the government of “terrorism,” Turkish Minute reported, citing the Kronos news website.
The raids were announced on social media by Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya, who said operation “Pincer-3” targeted the movement’s “current structure,” “clandestine military structure” and “student structure” in different provinces.
A video of the operation shared by Yerlikaya on X shows the police officers carrying weapons during the simultaneous raids and searching the bookshelves of the houses, apparently to see if there were any Gülen-linked books, which are considered criminal evidence.
The minister said a large amount of digital materials, money and valuables was seized during the operation, which was based in the central province of Konya.
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.