Governors, police chiefs, bankers, academics, imams and more persecuted in Turkey over alleged Gülen links on Thursday

Turkish government has continued its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement as Turkish police forces have detained dozens of people in their nationwide operations on Thursday.

Detention warrants were issued on Thursday for 20 people who used to work at public banks but were suspended or expelled from their posts due to alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, on the grounds that they allegedly use a smart phone application known as ByLock.

Eleven of the 20 former bank employees were detained on Thursday as part of the investigation conducted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Those 20 people were reported as former employees of Turkey’s Central Bank, Asya Bank, Iller Bank and Kalkınma Bank.  The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has issued a detention warrants over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

In a separate operation led by the Ankara police, 42 military officials were arrested for alleged links to Gülen movement, of which 17 were detained by Turkey’s security officials, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. The operation was spread across 25 provinces, including Ankara, İstanbul, İzmir, Erzurum and Malatya. On May 31, the prosecutor’s office had issued arrest warrants against 60 soldiers, who were on duty at the Turkish Military Academy on the night of the coup.

Forty-three people, including military personnel and academicians, were also arrested in the Erzurum province in two separate raidsover their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Thursday, according to a report by state-run Anadolu news agnency.

Meanwhile, 4 academics, identified as Ç.Ş, M.G.K, M.A. and M.F.S., from Erciyes University was jailed  over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Thursday. Accused of having used ByLock, the four academics have joined the ranks of hundreds of academics earlier jailed over similar charges.

Furthermore, in the framework of a Bursa-based investigatigation targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement, 10 people were detained in Bursa, Antalya and Giresun provinces on Thursday. It was reported that Bursa Chief Prosecutor Office has issued detention warrants for 14 employees of Yeşilırmak Cihangir Education Co. which was previously closed by a government decree under the rule of emergency. 10 of the educators who previously worked for the education company were detained by police over their alleged use of ByLock.

It was also reported that 15 former government officials, including 6 governors and a police chief were indicted by the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office over alleged membership to Gülen movement. The indictment, which was submitted to an İstanbul court seeks 3 aggravated life sentences for each suspect.

Among the suspects are İstanbul’s former police chief Hüseyin Çapkın and former İstanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu. Thirteen of the suspect are in pre-trial arrest and kept in prisons. The suspects are accused of attempting to abolish the constitutional order, attempting to overturn the Turkish parliament and oust the current government.

The 309-page indictment also accuses the suspects of being members of an armed terror organization; prosecutors seek additional five to 10 years jail terms on this charge. The indictment seeks to re-issue arrest warrants for former police chief Çapkın and former Denizli Governor Abdulkadir Demir; the two had been released earlier. It also seeks seven-and-a-half years to 15-year jail terms for eight suspects, including former governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu for allegedly financing terrorism. Three suspects are also accused of using the ByLock.

Turkish authorities consider ByLock to be the top communication tool among the followers of the 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 on July 15, 2016.

Also, it was reported that the former rector of Antalya’s Akdeniz University, Professor Dr. İsrafil Kurtcephe, has been put in pre-trial detention over his alleged links to the Gülen movement. Spent 12 days under detention, Kurtcephe was arrested by an Antalya court on Wednesday. Professor Kurtcephe wa earlier dismissed from his position as the rector over similar accusations.

Moreover, on Wednesday, a Kocaeli-based couple, identified with initials A.T. and A.T., were arrested along with their three kids near Greek border in Edirne province. The family was reportedly on their way to escape Turkey to Greece as they fear government persecution in the aftermath of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

Both A.T. and his wife were earlier dismissed from their jobs and have had outstanding arrest warrants as part of Turkish government’s post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the Gülen movement. It was reported that Edirne police stopped a car in Üyüklütatar village in Edirne upon a tip and detained the family members and two organizators.

The former district governor of Tunceli province’s Hozat district, Bekir Demir, was also detained by police on Thursday over alleged links to the Gülen movement. Demir was previously dismissed by Turkey’s Interior Ministry over the similar charges on Nov. 25, 2016 following the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

In Balıkesir province, police detained 11 people over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Thursday. The detainees include Orhan S., the chairman of the Ayvalık Professional High School of  the Balıkesir University, academician Veysel Ş, academician Selahattin B. from Edremit Professional High School and Erdoğan A and Erkan B. from Burhaniye Professional High School. Also mosque imams Mustafa D. and İsmail Ç. and Ercüment A., a security guard of Ayvalık Municipality.

Ali İhsan P. (48), who has been under a pre-trial arrest for 10 months, was given 6 years, 6 months and 22 days of prison sentences by a court in Çorum province over his alleged links to the Gülen movement on Thursday. The court based on Ali İhsan P’s membership to various civil society organizations affiliated with the Gülen movement as evidence.

On the other hand, a Turkish court on Wednesday has released the father of NBA player Enes Kanter, an outspoken critic of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. A court in the northwestern province of Tekirdağ released Professor Mehmet Kanter, who was detained last Friday as part of Turkish government’s post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the Gülen movement, on judicial probation.

Kanter, 25, a center for the Oklahoma City Thunder, previously backed the Gülen movement openly in Twitter postings after the putsch, which led to his family disowning him and denouncing his support for Gülen. Turkish government has issued an arrest warrant on May 26 for Kanter, who was born in Switzerland, after an investigation was launched into his alleged “membership in an armed terrorist organization.”

The Turkish government refers to the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization despite lack of any terrorist activity on the part of the movement.

The player’s passport was cancelled last month by Turkish authorities, leading to Kanter, who has compared Erdoğan to Adolf Hitler, being briefly detained in Romania.

The military coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President 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. (SCF with & June 8, 2017

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