Detention warrants issued for 139 at ministries, Ankara Municipality over alleged Gülen links

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 139 people working at the Education Ministry, Development Ministry and the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement.

Police teams began the detentions of the individuals who are accused of using a smart phone application known as ByLock on Wednesday morning.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is the top communication tool among the followers of the Gülen movement which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Some of the individuals for whom detention warrants were issued had already been fired from their jobs through government decrees after the coup attempt on allegations that they had links to the Gülen movement, according to a statement released by the prosecutor’s office on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, 9 teachers were arrested over their alleged use of ByLock, a controversial mobile application that Turkish authorities claim to be the top communication tool among the followers of the Gülen movement. Thus, nine teachers have joined the ranks of thousands of teachers and academics jailed in the aftermath of the coup attempt last summer.

Also on Tuesday, 17 housewives were arrested by a Turkish court due to alleged use of ByLock. It was reported that police detained a total of 41 civilians early on Tuesday in simultaneous raids in 16 Turkish provinces. Of those, 17 were sent to jail later the same day, while three were released pending trial.

The coup attempt on July 15, 2016 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

According to a statement from Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on May 6, 149,833 people have been investigated and 48,636 have been jailed as part of an investigation targeting the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey. (SCF with & May 24, 2017

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