4 Gülen followers detained while trying to flee Turkey

The authorities in northwest Turkey have detained four people allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement who were reportedly attempting to flee to neighboring Greece, the Kronos news website reported on Thursday.

Three of the detainees were apprehended while in a military zone in the border province of Edirne, while one was taken into custody in Tekirdağ based on a tip.

The report also said three other people in various parts of the country were detained and sent to prison to serve sentences handed down over Gülen links and approved by appeals courts.

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.

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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