Turkey ordered detention of 99 people over alleged Gülen links in a week

Turkish prosecutors have over the past week ordered the detention of 99 people due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, according to local media reports.

Twenty-seven active duty, retired and dismissed military officers and former cadets were detained on Wednesday in police raids in 16 provinces as part of two separate investigations. Detention warrants were issued by the Konya Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 27 people.

On Monday the chief public prosecutor’s office in Balıkesir ordered the detention of 17 people including teachers, businessmen and students over alleged Gülen links. Police conducted operations in seven provinces to detain the suspects.

Turkish police on Tuesday detained 19 former police academy students and three lawyers as part of an Ankara-based operation due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Raids were conducted across six provinces to detain the suspects as part of an investigation overseen by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

An additional 11 detention warrants were issued in Gaziantep province on Wednesday.

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 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office on Friday issued detention warrants for 22 individuals on accusations that they used the ByLock messaging app, once widely available online and considered by the government to be a tool of secret communication among supporters of the movement. Police raids were conducted in six provinces and detain 20 suspects.

The UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has repeatedly stated that arrest and conviction based on ByLock use in Turkey violated Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on November 22.

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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