Turkish authorities launch terror investigation into 16-year-old girl

A 16-year-old girl identified only by the initials M.A. who was detained on May 7 together with 13 other minors in connection with an ongoing investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement is now facing accusations of terrorism, Sevinç Özarslan from the Kronos news website reported.

According to a document dated June 6, 2024 obtained by Özarslan, the prosecutor’s office has accused M.A. of membership in an armed terrorist organization as of December 19, 2023. Due to her age, her case has been separated from the main investigation.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 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 first hearing for this case is scheduled for September 23 at the İstanbul 24th High Criminal Court.

Turkish police on May 7 detained 14 minors during raids in İstanbul for alleged links to the movement.

The İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office had issued detention warrants for the youngsters on allegations of “disseminating terrorist propaganda.”

Following raids conducted on homes around Beylikdüzü, a district on the European side of İstanbul, the minors were taken to the juvenile division of the police department.

The teens are accused of staying in student apartments affiliated with the movement and exchanging text messages as part of an allegedly Gülen-linked student network.

The detainees were reportedly released the same evening.

The parents of the detainees were dismissed from their jobs by executive decrees after the failed coup attempt in July 2016 as part of a widespread post-coup purge targeting public sector workers with suspected Gülen links.

Following the coup attempt, 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, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 24,706 members of the armed forces, 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.

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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