TİM deputy head Kocasert and 5 businesman detained over alleged links to Gülen movement

Süleyman Kocasert, deputy chairman of Turkey’s Exporter’s Assembly (TİM) and the head of Denizli Exporters’ Union (DENİB), was detained together with 5 other businessmen in Denizli province over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in Zonguldak province, 21 people, including 10 women, were detained by police with accusation of using ByLock mobilephone messaging application on Wednesday. It was reported that after Zonguldak Chief Prosecutor Office has issued arrest warrants for 21 people, police has organized raids in Zonguldak and Zonguldak’s Kozlu, Kilimli and Ereğli districts. Among the detainees there are, reportedly, radio programmer, accountant, housewives, university students and factory workers.

Also on Wednesday, 5 out of 6 detainees were arrested by a court in Batman province over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was reported that Batman Prosecutor Office has issued arrest warrants for 10 people and police has detained 6 of them on Wednesday.

Seven out 14 people were also arrested by a court in Osmaniye province on Wednesday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement by basing on their alleged use of ByLock. Police has detained 17 people in two different operations as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement. 3 detainees were also reportedly arrested by the court on June 15. Seven detainees were released by the court with condition of judicial probe and international travel ban.

Turkish authorities consider ByLock to be the top communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for allegedly using ByLock since a failed and controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Critics say the use of a technological application is not a criminal activity nor is it evidence of membership in a terrorist organization.

A letter sent by Turkey’s Security Directorate General to all police units in the country last October told police officers to obtain confessions from individuals who had been detained due to their use of ByLock because mere use of the application is not considered a crime.

Turkey survived a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that 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 participants of the Gülen movement in jails.

At least 161,751 people were detained or investigated and 50,334 people were arrested in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to statistics reported by state-run Anadolu news agency by basing on information taken from the officials from Turkey’s Justice Minsitry on June 13.

June 21, 2017

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