Professor, 8 others detained trying to flee persecution in Turkey

Turkish police detained a professor, his wife, a lawyer and other 6 people on Tuesday in Edirne province as they were allegedly trying flee to Greece to escape the persecution of the Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, A.K., dismissed from the faculty of medicine at Malatya’s İnönü University, his wife A.B.K. and lawyer A.E.T. were detained by police. It was claimed that the three were being sought due to their alleged use of the ByLock mobile phone messaging app. Two people who allegedly organised the trip were also detained.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

In a separate incident, Turkish border security forces detained 3 people, identified as Y.S., H.H.Ç., and İ.G. on border zone of Edirne province on Tuesday, as they were allegedly trying to flee from persecution of Turkish government targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Also on Tuesday, border security forces detained 3 people in Saçlımüsellim village of Uzunköprü district in Edirne province as they were allegedly trying to escape from the persecution in Turkey to Greece. While, three people including a chief inspector at Turkish Prime Ministry who were dismissed by a government decree under the state of emergency, were detained, another person, identified as S.D., could escape from security forces by jumping into Evros (Meriç) River on the Turkish-Greek border. A local court later released 3 detained people, identified as A.B., F.B. and H.D.

Meanwhile, 50 people who were detained off northern Cyprus on Saturday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement as they were trying to illegally cross to the Greek island of Rhodes were turned over to Turkish Interpol officials on Monday.

According to a statement, the ministry said the detainees were received by officials of the Turkish Security Directorate’s Interpol Department for legal proceedings. The detainees were caught on Saturday while trying to illegally cross to Rhodes from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), the statement said. Among the people rounded up were ex-soldiers, teachers and a carpenter.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organisation,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with 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 has suspended or dismissed about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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