Turkey ordered detention of 137 people over alleged Gülen links in a week

Turkish prosecutors have over the past week ordered the detention of 137 people due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, according to local media reports.

The chief public prosecutor’s office in Burdur on Thursday ordered the detention of 15 people over alleged Gülen links. Police conducted operations in the province to detain the suspects.

Also the same day detention warrants for nine individuals were issued by the Tekirdağ Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in northwestern Turkey, according to the local media.

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 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.

As part of a separate investigation, five people were arrested on Monday in the southern province of Adana on charges that they deposited money at Islamic lender Bank Asya, which was closed down by the Turkish government due to its links to the movement following the coup attempt.

In İzmir detention warrants were issued on Tuesday for 25 people, 22 of whom, all women, have been detained so far, on allegations that they were members of Gülen-linked foundations that were closed down by the government in the aftermath of the coup attempt and that their names were mentioned in the ByLock conversations of others.

ByLock, a messaging app once widely available online, is believed by the government to be a tool of secret communication among supporters of the movement despite the lack of any evidence that ByLock messages were related to the abortive putsch.

Prosecutors in Ankara issued detention warrants the same day for 56 people, 35 of whom have been so far taken into custody, on accusations that they obtained the questions of a deputy police chief exam in 2013.

Also on Tuesday seven former and active duty military officers were detained in police raids in three provinces as part of an investigation targeting alleged Gülen movement members. Detention warrants were issued by the Çanakkale Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for eight people.

The public prosecutor’s office in Edirne on Wednesday ordered the detention of 12 people including teachers, academics, lawyers and doctors. Police conducted operations across nine provinces to detain the suspects.

The public prosecutor’s office in Bolu on Friday issued detention warrants for eight people over alleged Gülen links. The suspects are accused of using payphones to secretly communicate with their contacts in the Gülen movement.

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 Turkish 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 Turkish 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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