Turkey detains dozens over their alleged links to Gülen movement on Tuesday

Police forces detained dozens of people and the courts in Turkey arrested many across the country on Tuesday as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged followers of the Gülen movement in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Neslihan Gökdemir, the wife of Sercan Gökdemir, who is the deputy governor of Diyarbakır province, was also arrested by a Diyarbakır court on Tuesday over her alleged links to the Gülen movement following her husband’s arrest by the same court on Monday.

Yunus Kaya, former Deputy Police Chief of Karabük province, was arrested by a court in the province on Tuesday over his alleged use of mobile phone messaging app ByLock. Kaya, who was dismissed by a government decree under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, was detained in July 12, 2017.

Turkish authorities believe using ByLock is a sign of being a Gülen follower as they see the mobile phone application as the top communication tool among the sympathizers of the movement. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt in 2016.

Also on Tuesday, in an İzmir-based investigation, 37 people were detained by police in 7 provinces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The detentions in İzmir, İstanbul, Manisa, Bitlis, Kahramanmaraş, Ağrı and Malatya provinces have came after İzmir Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 62 people. The suspect are accused of allegedly using ByLock and depositing money to now-closed private lender Bank Asya which was affiliated with the Gülen movement.

In an Elazığ-based investigation police teams have also detained 10 people in three provinces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Tuesday. It was reported that there are military personnel and health workers who were previously dismissed by government decrees under the rule of emergency and shopkeepers among the detainees.

Also on Tuesday, 13 people were detained by police in Çanakkale province over their alleged links to the Gülen movement while 22 people were detained in Kayseri province with the same charges. It was reported that in the same investigation Kayseri Chief Prosecutor’s office has issued detention warrants for 36 people.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 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.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

July 19, 2017

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