Turkey’s Interior Minister: 55,665 people imprisoned over their alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkey's Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has stated on Tuesday that a total of 55,665 people have been jailed in Turkey as part of his government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Soylu has also said that the government has cancelled 234,419 citizens’ Turkish passports.

Giving information about the investigations under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt, Minister Soylu has stated in a meeting in İstanbul on Tuesday that 23,171 of those whoa were jailed by the government of Turkish autocratic Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are alleged users of a controversial mobile phone messaging application, ByLock.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Soylu has also stated that 14,754 personnel who used to work for Interior Ministry were suspended and 29,261 personnel were dismissed by government decrees under the rule of emergency. Soylu stated that the total number of personnel in the Interior Ministry who were investigated is 44.000. He said after the investigations 7,602 dismissed or suspended personnel have returned to their public duties in the ministry.

Selami Altınok, the General Director of Turkish Police Department, has also stated on Tuesday that 22,987 police officers have been dismissed from Turkish police department over their alleged links to the Gülen movement since a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 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 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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