Dozens detained across Turkey over alleged links to Gülen movement on Wednesday

Police detained dozens of people across Turkey on Wednesday as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged followers of the Gülen movement in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Police detained 30 people including 3 military officers and 19 non-commissioned officers in Turkey’s 15 provinces in a Tokat-based investigation targeting the alleged followers of the Gülen movement on Wednesday. Those, who were detained following detention warrants issued by Tokat Chief Prosecutor’s Office, has been started to be transferred to Tokat province from Ankara, İzmir, Bitlis, Konya, Tekirdağ, Diyarbakır, Kırıkkale, Bursa, Van, Şırnak, Batman, Elazığ, Isparta and Muş provinces.

Also in Muğla province, 28 people were detained by police forces following the detention warrants were issued by Muğla Chief Prosecutor’s Office for them on Wednesday on accusations that they use a smart phone application known as ByLock.

Five people were also deteained by police forces in Kırşehir province and 9 people in Karabük on Wednesday over their alleged use of ByLock. It was reported that 5 people including some who were previously dismissed from their jobs, were detained in Kırşehir as part of an investigation overseen by the Kırşehir Chief Prosecutor’s Office into the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, 9 people were detained in a Karabük-based coup probe targeting alleged ByLock users in seven cities, including Karabük, İstanbul, Van, İzmir, Ankara, Malatya and Çorum.

In a Sivas-based investigation, 8 people were detained by police over their alleged use of ByLock on Wednesday. Following the detention warrants issued by Sivas Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 15 people, police teams detained 8 people in Sivas, Kahramanmaraş and İstanbul provinces.

Also on Wednesday, Tekirdağ Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 10 more people over their alleged use of ByLock. Thus, the number of those who have been wanted in the province has increased to 137 including imams, tourism workers, journalist, bankers, health workers, verterinars, teachers, doctors, nurses, shopkeepers, workers, police officers etc. Police forces have detained 128 of them.

A Tekirdağ court has arrested 15 people and released 42 people and put 20 people under judicial probation who were detained under the same investigation. 72 people are still under police detention in Tekirdağ province.

Turkish authorities believe using ByLock indicates membership in the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the controversial coup attempt last year.

Moreover, 4 out of 11 military officers and staff of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), who were detained over their alleged links to Gülen movement and allegedly being members of crypto structure of the movement in the army and the MİT, were arrested by a court in Sinop province on Wednesday.

While 2 MİT personnel and 2 military officers were arrested, others who were previously dismissed from the military by the government decree under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, were released with judicial probation.

Sinop Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 13 military and MİT personnel on July 6, 2017 and 11 of them were detained by police in Sinop, Ankara, Bartın, Hatay, İstanbul, Kocaeli, Muğla and Trabzon provinces.

Meanwhile, a relative of a former Turkish sergeant on trial in connection with last year’s coup plot was remanded in custody on Wednesday for attempting to enter a courtroom in Ankara earlier this week wearing a t-shirt bearing the word “hero” in English. The Ankara Penal Court of Peace remanded Emirhan B., nephew of detained Halil İbrahim B..

Emirhan B. was initially detained by police on Monday as he entered the courtroom in Turkey’s capital where his uncle was standing trial. The suspect claimed he did not know the meaning of the word “hero”. In a related incident last week, Gökhan Güçlü, a suspect accused of being part of a group that allegedly tried to assassinate Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the night of a controversial coup attempt, appeared before a court wearing a similar t-shirt.

Last Friday, Turkey’s Justice Ministry issued a circular banning clothing from courtrooms which carry any message “promoting terror”, which could “provoke” the public or which could influence the outcome of ongoing cases. The letter was submitted to all criminal court chief prosecutors in Turkey.

Furthermore, a Mersin man, identified as E.A., was detained while he was visiting his relative who has been under arrest over alleged links to the Gülen movement in Tarsus prison on Wednesday. It was reported that an arrest warrant had been earlier issued against the visitor E.A. on accusation of membership to the movement. E.A. was rounded up by gendarmerie and later put in pre-trial arrest by the court in charge.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with 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.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

July 19, 2017

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