Turkey blacklists 411 critics living abroad over Gülen links

The Turkish government has blacklisted 411 people living in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, the US and Canada for alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group outlawed by Ankara, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Kronos news website and an official document by the interior ministry.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The document published by Kronos, a communiqué to the police departments in Turkey’s 81 provinces from Oct. 2, is classified as “Gizli” (secret) and features a list of 441 people who have been prosecuted as part of investigations into the Gülen movement and are currently abroad.

“The table prepared according to the information obtained as a result of the investigations carried out to identify and reveal the countries where FETÖ-affiliated individuals are/may be currently located is attached to be evaluated in the probes,” the document says, using a derogatory acronym, FETÖ, devised by the Turkish government to refer to the Gülen movement as a terrorist group.

The document shows the country, name, surname, ID number and the court in which the person is being prosecuted. The document is annotated with the note that it “is not legal in nature and was prepared solely for intelligence purposes.”

According to the Kronos report, the list of 441 people includes journalists in exile such as Nurullah Kaya, Bedrettin Uğur and H.B., who live in Germany, as well as five members of a family whose companies have been seized by Ankara over Gülen links.

“In a state governed by the rule of law, it would be unacceptable to collect such personal data to blacklist innocent people,” journalist Uğur told Turkish Minute.

“Turkish authorities should not waste their valuable resources on persecuting journalists and critics and should restore the rule of law in the country as soon as possible,” Uğur added, referring to a recent landmark ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) that could affect the cases of thousands convicted over Gülen links in Turkey.

The ECtHR on Sept. 26 delivered its ruling on Yüksel Yalçınkaya, a former teacher convicted of Gülen links due to his alleged use of a mobile application, his bank account and labor union membership. The court concluded that Yalçınkaya’s conviction violated several legal principles enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights: the right to a fair trial, the principle of no crime without law and the right to association.

The Strasbourg court also criticized Turkey’s widespread use as evidence of the mobile messaging app ByLock as broad and arbitrary, lacking necessary safeguards for a fair trial. Additionally, the court pointed out significant procedural deficiencies in Yalçınkaya’s trial, including not granting him access to evidence or allowing the independent examination of data.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding, a charge that Gülen strongly denies.

Although the Turkish government has classified the movement as a terrorist organization, none of its Western allies have fallen for Ankara’s portrayal and consider the group a civic initiative focused on educational activities. Gülen lives in exile in the United States, which has refused to extradite him to Turkey on the grounds that there is no substantial evidence that he committed a crime.

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