Turkey’s notorious National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has abducted 80 Turkish nationals from 18 countries so far over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Thursday.
According to a report by the Hürriyet Daily News, Bozdağ’s comments in a televised interview with private broadcaster Habertürk TV come amid tension between Turkey and Kosovo over last week’s abduction of six Turkish men from the country.
“MİT has struck a major blow against FETÖ through its operation abroad. The incident in Kosovo was a great success,” Bozdağ said.
“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to refer to the Gülen movement.
Although Bozdağ did not name the countries where MİT operations have been conducted against alleged followers of the movement, there are reports that abductions have been carried out in cooperation with countries including Malaysia, Kosovo, Sudan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Myanmar and Afghanistan.
Last week, Kosovo police illegally detained five teachers who used to work at schools affiliated with the Gülen movement and an allegedly movement-affiliated doctor and handed them over to Turkey’s MİT agents.
Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the AKP government along with autocratic President 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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”