Detention warrants issued for hundreds of people across Turkey over alleged Gülen links

File photo.

Turkish prosecutors have issued detention warrants for hundreds of people from various professions due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 144 people at the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) due to alleged Gülen links. A total of 20 suspects were detained as of Tuesday morning following police raids in 35 locations across 40 provinces.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office also issued detention warrants for a total of 124 people across six provinces on Tuesday on the grounds that they use a smart phone application, known as ByLock.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is the top communication tool among the followers of the Gülen movement.

Detention warrants were also issued for 33 employers of the  Turkish Telecommunications Authority (BTK) and 36 employees of the Capital Markets Board (SPK) due to alleged Gülen links.

Among the people for whom detention warrants issued, there are 55 individuals who used to work for Gülen-linked schools which were all closed down by the government in the aftermath of the coup attempt.

Meanwhile, at least eight lawyers in the Kayseri province were detained as part of the government’s post-coup crackdown on Tuesday. The detainees are accused of having used ByLock, a smarthphone application that Turkish prosecutors claim to be the top communication tool among the Gülen movement followers.

The military 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 Recep Tayyip 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. ( May 23, 2017

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