Sixty people detained in Ankara over alleged Gülen links

Sixty people were detained in police operations targeting the alleged followers of the faith-based Gülen movement in Ankara on Tuesday.

The arrest warrants were also issued for a total of 265 suspects following an investigation carried out by the Constitutional Crime Investigation Unit of Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in the framework of post-coup witch hunt. In the Ankara-based operations 60 people who have alleged links with the Gülen movement were detained 20 provinces.

Separately, a court in İstanbul arrested eight out of 54 former judicial officials who were detained as part of anti-Gülen witch hunt. The court has released forty-six other suspects under legal restrictions.

Also, 9 former employees of the Undersecretariat for the Treasury detained due to their use of a smart phone application known as ByLock, which Turkish authorities say is the top communication tool among the followers of the Gülen movement, on Tuesday. The detainees were earlier dismissed from their jobs as part of administrative investigation into the movement.

A total of 966 people were detained in operations targeting the faith-based Gülen movement over the past week. The detentions and arrests took place between March 13 and 20.

Turkey experienced a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, 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.

In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of March 21, 94,982 people were being held without charge, with an additional 47,128 in pre-trial detention according to figures.

A total of 7,316 academics were dismissed, and 4,070 judges and prosecutors were purged over alleged coup involvement or terrorist links.

March 21, 2017

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