Four Turks deported from Saudi Arabia sent to jail in Turkey over donations to Gülen movement

An Ankara court sent to jail 4 out of 16 Turkish nationals who were deported back to home from Saudi Arabia as part of Turkey’s ever-growing crackdown against the Gülen movement that that has spread to overseas in the recent past.

Sixteen Turkish nationals in several Saudi cities were detained on March 15 and were kept in a hotel in Madinah for weeks, until they were deported to Turkey on May 4, according to a letter sent to They were all taken into custody upon their arrival to Ankara.

Saudi authorities earlier put travel ban on all Turkish nationals over their alleged links with the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of masterminding the July 15 coup attempt, Turkish online news portal Haberdar said.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday that the judge overseeing their case put 4 of them in pre-trial jail while releasing 12 on judicial control. 16 suspects are accused of donating money to the movement.

Meanwhile, 5 auditors who were earlier dismissed from the Turkish Finance Ministry as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement were detained on Wednesday. Accused of having used to ByLock smartphone application, the suspects were detained in Samsun and Ordu provinces.

Turkish prosecutors have also issued detention warrants for 25 people, 22 of whom are lawyers and three of whom are staff at the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, over their use of ByLock. The detention warrants were issued by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, and 13 of the individuals were detained as of Thursday noon.

ByLock is considered by Turkish authorities to be the top communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a failed coup attempt last July.

Also on Wednesday, an indictment prepared against Savaş Kırbaş, one of the prosecutors who launched the 2010 investigation into the alleged military coup plot called Sledgehammer against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) seeks three aggravated life sentences for him.

The indictment seeks 15 years more for the prosecutor, under arrest since Aug 20, 2016, for his alleged links to the Gülen movement. Kırbaş was earlier dismissed from his post over similar charges.

Sledgehammer is an alleged military plot claimed to have planned drastic measures to foment unrest in the country in order to topple down the AKP government. Recently, Turkish government has made controversial remarks on whether the Sledgehammer was a real plot or an alleged conspiracy by the movement. Meanwhile, some claim that the government ordered allegedly movement-affiliated prosecutors to investigate implicated military officers and many others linked with them.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen. Gülen and the movement strongly denies any involvement into the coup bid.  (SCF with May 18, 2017

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