New wave of arrests hits scores of alleged Gülen movement members

Turkish authorities on Friday ordered the detention of 59 people as part of a large-scale crackdown on the faith-based Gülen movement, led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Operations were carried out in 28 provinces across Turkey to apprehend the suspects, accused of membership in the movement, on the orders of the chief public prosecutor’s office in the western province of İzmir, according to Anadolu.

Police have up until now detained 24 suspects, Anadolu said. The names of some of the suspects were obtained from the confessions of previously detained suspects who benefitted from the repentance law in return for accusing others.

The suspects are accused of communicating with alleged members of the Gülen movement with pre-paid phone cards.

As part of a separate investigation authorities detained eight active duty and two retired noncommissioned officers on the orders of the chief public prosecutor’s office in the Aegean city of Balıkesir.

In a third investigation, the chief public prosecutor’s office in the southeastern province of Gaziantep ordered the detention of 25 former police officers dismissed from their jobs with emergency decree-laws issued during a state of emergency declared after a failed coup on July 15, 2016.

Twenty-four of the suspects were apprehended in operations carried out in six provinces. The authorities are looking for the remaining suspect, whom they could not find at his registered address.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization and began to target members of the movement.

Following the coup attempt in July 2016, which he accused Gülen of masterminding — an accusation strongly denied by the cleric — Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement, dismissing some 150,000 civil servants from state jobs and investigating almost 600,000 people, detaining or arresting half of them on trumped-up terrorism-related charges.

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