Turkish authorities detain 14 female university students on Gülen charges

A total of 14 female university students were detained in Turkey’s capital of Ankara on June 1 for alleged links to the Gülen movement, Bold Medya reported.

The students were reportedly put under psychological pressure while they were interrogated. They were threatened during interrogation and were told their detention would be prolonged if they did not cooperate with the authorities.

Most of the women were studying at the prestigious Middle Eastern Technical University (METU) and were charged with membership in a terrorist organization for allegedly taking part in the movement’s university activities.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish 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.

Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Turkish authorities have been targeting university students since the beginning of the purge. Students have not only been detained for long periods of time, but have also been subjected to ill-treatment in detention.

Turkish authorities detained 30 female students in the western city of Uşak last year, for alleged links to the movement. The students later said they were subjected to unlawful strip-searches and prevented from consulting their lawyers during interrogation. The students also said they were put under psychological pressure by the police.

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.

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