Dozens, mostly military officers, detained across Turkey over alleged Gülen links on Friday

Turkish police teams on Friday detained dozens of people, majority of them are military officers, in many provinces of Turkey over their alleged links to faith-based Gülen movement as part of a massive post-coup witch hunt campaing launched by Turkish government following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016

Ten military officers were arrested as part of a Konya-based investigation targeting alleged followers of the Gülen movement in the military on Friday. Konya Chief Prosecutor’s Office has recently issued detention warrants for 21 officers, including two lieutenant commanders, 13 first lieutenants and six lieutenants from the 3rd Main Jet Airbase.

The military officers, 20 of whom were detained by the police on July 4, are accused of violating the constitution, attempting to hinder legislative bodies, rebelling against the government and membership in an armed organization. The court ruled for the arrest of 10 officers and released 10 others on judicial probation.

Also on Friday, 30 military personnels were detained in a Tekirdağ-based investigation targeting the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. After Tekirdağ Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 36 military officers, non-commissioned officers and a civilian public servant, police teams detained 30 military staff in operations in 17 provinces of Turkey including Ankara, Sakarya, Manisa, Trabzon, Gaziantep, Mardin, Kars, Kırıkkale, Hatay and Diyarbakır.

Moreover, 17 people, including 15 military officers on duty, were detained by police in 13 provinces in a Kocaeli-based investigation targeting the alleged followers of the Gülen movement on Friday.  After Kocaeli Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 22 military officers, including 20 military officers on duty and 2 officers who were previously dismissed by a government decree under the rule of emergency declared in wake of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, police teams have detained 2 majors, 2 captains, 5 lieutenants and 13 non-commissioned officers in the provinces of Kocaeli, İstanbul, Tekirdağ, Ankara, Erzurum, Niğde, Aydın, Şırnak, Sinop, Diyarbakır, Muğla, Malatya and Balıkesir.

In a Trazon-based investigation targeting the alleged followers of the Gülen movement, 26 people were also detained by police teams in 4 different provinces on Friday. Trabzon Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 30 people over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging app ByLock. Police detained 26 of them in operations in Trabzon, Balıkesir, Sakarya and Niğde.

Also in Acıpayam district of Denizli province, 20 people were detained by police teams in wake of Acıpayam Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for them over their alleged use of ByLock on Friday.

Turkish authorities believe using ByLock is a sign of being a Gülen follower as they see the mobile phone application as the top communication tool among Gülen followers. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt.

A controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with 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 participants of the Gülen movement in jails.

According to a statement from Turkey’s Justice Ministry on July 13, a total of 50,510 people have been arrested while 169,013 others have been the subject of legal proceedings since the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 on coup charges.

July 14, 2017

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