Turkey detains 42 people over alleged Gülen links

Turkish police on Thursday detained 42 people for alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by the government of “terrorist activities.”

Carried out in 14 provinces, the detentions were announced on social media by Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya.

Yerlikaya said the detainees included people who were staying at addresses where they were not registered in order to avoid capture, including those with upheld prison sentences, people who were involved in the movement’s alleged infiltration of the military and the police and alleged users of ByLock, a mobile messaging application routinely interpreted by Turkish authorities as membership in the movement.

Turkish authorities have been continuing to detain and prosecute alleged ByLock users despite a landmark European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgment last year which found the use of the app as evidence to be broad and arbitrary, lacking necessary safeguards for a fair trial.

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 an 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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