Turkey detained 91 over Gülen links in 5 days: minister

Turkish police have detained 91 people across 30 provinces in the past five days over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by the government of “terrorist activities,” Turkish Minute reported on Saturday, citing a social media post by Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya.

Yerlikaya said the detainees included people who were involved in the movement’s alleged infiltration of the military and the police as well as those who were determined to have used the ByLock messaging application, those accused of having access to the questions on a State Personnel Examination (KPSS) held in 2009 and those whose sentences over Gülen links were upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals and were at large.

ByLock, once widely available online, has been considered a secret tool of communication among supporters of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group outlawed by Ankara, since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, despite the lack of any evidence that ByLock messages were related to the abortive putsch.

The Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, is accused by the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding the failed coup and is labeled a “terrorist organization,” although the movement denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The minister also said a large sum of cash as well as digital material was confiscated in the raids.

Turkey routinely detains and arrests individuals for providing financial support to the families of people who were expelled from public service via decree-laws, who were in prison due to alleged links to the Gülen movement or who were just released.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement 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. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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