Turkish authorities issue detention warrants for 160 suspects over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish prosecutors this week ordered the detention of 160 individuals as part of a massive crackdown on the Gülen movement, Turkish media reported.

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s office issued detention warrants for 70 suspects in 22 cities, including İstanbul. Among the detainees were civil servants, healthcare workers and 60 military personnel, 15 of whom are active duty.

The suspects are accused of communicating with alleged members of the Gülen movement, a religious group inspired by US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, using payphones in order to avoid being tracked.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office also issued detention warrants for 93 suspects in 37 provinces, including Ankara. Among those detained, 29 were public servants and retired or purged military members. The operations in Ankara were carried out jointly with the National Intelligence Organization (MİT).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement 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 strongly denies involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

As part of the crackdown Erdoğan dismissed some 150,000 public servants including members of the armed forces, police officers, teachers, doctors and academics by emergency decree-laws, locking up tens of thousands and seizing their assets. Almost 600,000 people were investigated, and half of them were detained or arrested on trumped-up terrorism charges.

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