Lawyer of Turkey’s main opposition leader and dozens more detained over alleged links to Gülen movement

Lawyer Celal Çelik

Celal Çelik, a judge-turned lawyer representing the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, was detained at his home in Ankara province on Friday.

The detention was carried out as part of an İstanbul-based investigation into the Gülen movement over its alleged role in stopping the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) trucks that were suspected of illegally transporting weapons to Syria in 2014. His ending of subscription to pro-government tv platform Digitürk following the platform’s censorship to now-closed critical Samanyolu and Bugün TV’ channels was showed among the charges directed against Çelik.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has criticized the detention of his lawyer Celal Çelik over his links to Gülen movement and said the decision is “abdication of reason.” “What is happening today is a disgrace for democracy. The detention decision about Çelik is abdication of reason,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, criticizing support for Gülen movement while fighting against it.

CHP Spokesperson Bülent Tezcan, who spoke to Halk TV television channel, has also criticized the detention decision and called it a “serious conspiracy.”

The advisor to Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu Fatih Gürsul was arrested in Dec. 2016 on charges of using ByLock, a smart phone application that authorities claim is a communication tool between members of the Gülen movement. Gürsul was interrogated by prosecutor Mehmet Şenay Baygın along with 15 other suspects before he was referred to an İstanbul court for arrest. He was subsequently arrested for alleged membership in a terrorist organization.

Meanwhile, detention warrants have been issued for 71 people working in education sector over their links to Gülen movement by Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office, Cumhuriyet daily reported on Friday.

According to report, 63 used to work in the education institutions closed down by the government following a botched coup attempt last year in July, while eight was working for Turkey’s Education Ministry. Media reported that 40 of the suspects in Aksaray, Mersin, Kayseri and Bolu provinces were detained on Friday.

Also on Friday, 18 military officers were detained following the detention warrants were issued by Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 26 military officers who work at Land Aviation Command over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was reported that 24 out of 26 these military officers are on active duties and includes a major, a lieutenant and non-commissioned military officers. It was also stated that one of the military officers has been retired and another one was dismissed by government decree under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

In a Yalova-based probe as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement 20 people were detained on Friday by police in Yalova, İstanbul, İzmir, Samsun, Ankara and Tekirdağ provinces over the accusations that they have links to the movement, financially supported the movement and used the mobile phone messaging application ByLock. It was reported that the detentions were made by police following the warrants issued by Yalova Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 27 people.

In a Hatay-based probe as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement 20 people were detained on Thursday in Hatay, Ankara, Gaziantep and Kars provinces over their alleged use of ByLock. It was reported that 14 out of 20 detainees are women.

Also in a Sivas-based probe as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement 11 people were detained on Thursday in Sivas, İstanbul, Kayseri and Eskişehir provinces over their alleged use of ByLock. It was reported that the detentions were done by police following Sivas Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued arrest warrants for 20 people.

In a Diyarbakır-based probe, 19 people were detained by police following the detention warrants issued by Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 31 people over their alleged use of ByLock on Friday. It was reported that police has seized 53 one-dollar-bills during the operations.

Eighteen shopkeepers, workers, students and public servants, who were previously dismissed by government decrees under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of July coup attempt in 2016, were detained in Denizli and Bolu provinces in a Denizli-based investigation targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement on Friday. It was reported that Acıpayam Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 23 people, including 5 women over their alleged use of ByLock.

A total of 10 people were arrested on Friday in Adıyaman province as part of an investigation into users of ByLock. The Adıyaman Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants on Sept. 7 for 40 people in Adıyaman, Ankara, Kahramanmaraş, Şanlıurfa, Hatay, Gaziantep and Nevşehir. While 32 were detained during the operations, police are still searching for eight suspects. Thirteen of the suspects who were apprehended appeared before a judge, and a decision to arrest was handed down for 10 of them, while three were released on judicial probation.

Turkish authorities believe using ByLock is a sign of being a member of the Gülen movement and it is seen as the top communication tool among members of the 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.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling 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.

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. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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