Dozens of people detained, arrested, jailed in Turkey on Thursday over alleged links with Gülen movement

Turkish government has continued to detain or arrest dozens of people as part of its post-coup witch hunt targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, across Turkey on Thursday.

A total of 32 people in Ordu, Giresun and Samsun provinces of Turkey’s Black Sea region were detained by police in Thursday over their alleged use of ByLock, a controversial mobile application that Turkish authorities claim to be the top communication tool among the alleged members of the Gülen movement. It was reported that the Prosecutor Office in Ordu province has issued arrest warrants for 47 people over their alleged links with the Gülen movement. Police detained 32 of them in simultaneous operations in three Black Sea provinces.

Also, 12 dentists were detained by police teams in Sivas, Hatay, Bursa, Bayburt, Giresun, Osmaniye and Edirne provinces of Turkey over their alleged use of ByLock and being alleged members of the Gülen movement on Thursday. The simultaneous operations were launched by police teams following that a Prosecutor Office in Sivas province has issued arrest warrants about numbers of dentists who were either dismissed by government decrees under the rule of emergency from their public duties or still active in their posts. Police has still sought another dentist over the same accusation.

In a Konya-based investigation as part of post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement, gendarmarie teams have detained 11 non-commissioned military officers in Konya, Eskişehir and İzmir provinces on Thursday.

Also in Afyonkarahisar province  21 people were detained on Thursday by police teams following arrest warrants issued by a prosecutor office over their alleged use of ByLock smartphone application. Seven of them were arrested by an Afyonkarahisar court in the same day over being alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, Lokman Beldağ, a department director in Erzurum Courthouse was given by 2nd High Penal Court in Erzurum to 6 years and 3 months of prison sentence after his first hearing in the court over his alleged use of ByLock. Beldağ was sentenced with prison despite he refused the charge of using the smartphone application and the court has been presented no evidence by the prosecutor office.

Former police chief and scriptwriter Bayram Özbek was arrested by 14th Heavy Penal Court which tries a case of 33 people including journalist Hidayet Karaca, the General Manager of now-closed Samanyolu Broadcasting Group, over his alleged use of ByLock.

Moreover, a deputy police commissioner, who has been tried without arrest, was also given by a Heavy Penal Court in Kastamonu province with 6 years and 3 months of prison sentence over alleged links with the Gülen movement on Thursday.

The military coup attempt on July 15 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 report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt. Law enforcement have  also caught hundreds of people attempting to illegally leave Turkey to neighboring countries so far.  Not satisfied with dismissals, Turkish government cancelled passports of thousands of people while putting travel ban on many others.

June 1, 2017

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