Turkey issued detention warrants for 123 people over alleged Gülen links in a week

Turkish authorities have over the past week ordered the detention of 123 people including doctors, lawyers, academics, active duty and dismissed military officers and former cadets due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, according to reports by Turkish media.

Detention warrants for 13 former military cadets, an active duty and two retired military members were issued on Monday over alleged Gülen links by the Balıkesir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in western Turkey.

On Wednesday the public prosecutor’s offices of Ankara, Edirne and Kayseri provinces ordered the detention of 54 individuals including doctors, academics, lawyers and former military officers on the same accusation. Thirty-one people were detained by police following raids in three provinces.

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 the 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.

Today the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 19 active duty, 32 dismissed and two retired military members in 10 cities. 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.

According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on February 20, 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 Gülen 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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