Turkey issued detention warrants for 106 people over alleged Gülen links in a week

Turkish authorities have over the past week ordered the detention of 106 people including active duty and dismissed military officers, former cadets and civilians due to alleged links to the Gülen movement.

According to the state-run Anadolu news agency the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday issued detention warrants for 42 people including former military officers and cadets over alleged Gülen links.

The public prosecutor’s office in İstanbul in a separate investigation ordered the detention of 16 people. Police conducted operations across nine provinces and detained 12 suspects on Tuesday.

As part of the investigation overseen by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, police raided locations across Turkey on Friday to detain 22 former police cadets.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based 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 on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Turkish police on Monday detained 14 people out of 26 facing detention warrants issued by the Balıkesir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in western Turkey, including seven active duty and 15 former military officers and four civilians. The suspects are accused of communicating with alleged members of the Gülen movement via payphones to avoid detection.

The so-called “payphone investigations” are based on call records. The prosecutors assume that a member of the Gülen movement used the same payphone to call all his contacts consecutively. Based on that assumption, when an alleged member of the movement is found in call records, it is assumed that other numbers called right before or after that call also belong to people with Gülen links. Receiving calls from a payphone periodically is also considered a red flag.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on February 20, that a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the movement.

The government also removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs on alleged Gülen links following the coup attempt.

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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