Turkey arrests 8 lawyers, detains 30 teachers and seizes 5 companies on Friday

Eight lawyers were arrested by an İzmir court on Friday over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement on the grounds that they allegedly use a smart phone application known as ByLock. One lawyer was released by the court with condition of judicial probe.

It was also reported that the procedures of suscpected 9  lawyers, including Taner Kılıç, the chair of Amnesty International Turkey, is still continuing. Kılıç was detained at his home in the western Turkish city of İzmir along with 22 other lawyers on June 6, 2017.

Meanwhile, in a Muğla-based investigation targeting the alleged members of Gülen movement, 30 people were detained by police in 24 different provinces across Turkey on the grounds that they allegedly use ByLock. It was reported that Muğla Chief Prosecutor Office has issued detention warrants for 49 people, who are mostly teachers working for the schools affiliated with the Gülen movement. The schools were closed by a government decree under the state of emergency in wake of the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

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, on Friday, Five more companies belonging to the Muğla-based Çobanlar Group has been seized by the Turkish government over alleged links to the Gülen movement. Trustees were appointed to Çobanlar’s 3 companies on June 4 and to the same group’s 2 other companies on June 8.

Accused of raising donations to the movement, the conglomerate operates in the marble sector, both producing and importing marble to the world from the western province of Muğla. Çobanlar’s owner Sami Çoban has been under arrest over his ties to the Gülen movement since Aug. 25, 2016.

A total of 922 private companies with a value of TL 40.8 billion [$11.46 billion] in assets have been transferred to the state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) since the coup attempt. The companies in question were mostly targeted as part of a sweeping state crackdown against the movement.

A military coup attempt on July 15 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.

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.

May 9, 2017


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