Turkish gov’s issues detention warrants for 108 police, 56 military officers over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has issued detention warrants for 108 former or retired police officers, including high-ranking police staff and detained more than 60 of them on Thursday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The detentions across Turkey’s 30 provinces came on Thursday following warrants were issued by Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 108 former or retired police officers, including high-ranking police staff.

In a similar development the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 56 military members on suspicion that they are part of the “military branch” of the Gülen movement. Thirty-four of the 56 are active-duty officers. According to the report, 55 suspects have been detained in operations in 26 provinces.

Also on Thursday, İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 39 people who used to opened an account in now-closed private lender Bank Asya and deposited money into this bank which was affiliated with the Gülen movement. Police have detained 27 people in 7 provinces over their financial support to the movement basing on their accounts in the Bank Asya.

Having an account at Bank Asya that is affiliated with the Gülen movement which was one of the three banks with the highest liquidity in Turkey. The government unlawfully took over the bank on February 4, 2015, contrary to strict statutory banking regulations against such a drastic move. The bank, which had 210 branches, 5,000 employees and around 1,5 million clients, was founded on October 24, 1996 upon formal approval from the regulators. It has operated under the supervision of the independent regulatory bodies in Turkey that were responsible for overseeing the banking sector. It was a popular bank.

Also, a 37-year-old Swiss-Turkish national, identified with his initials E.D., was remanded in prison after he was detained upon a complaint that he was preparing to escape to Greece. Turkish media reported that E.D. was caught preparing for an illegal departure from Turkey’s resort town Bodrum to the Greek island of Kos.

An arrest warrant was earlier issued against E.D. over his alleged ties to the Gülen movement, according to media. E.D. has been remanded in prison on charges of membership to a terrorist organization following an initial court appearance.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt launched by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Many tried to escape Turkey via illegal ways as the government cancelled their passports like thousands of others.

Meanwhile, Ankara’s Erdoğanist Chief Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman has stated on Wednesday almost 15,000 users of ByLock, a mobile phone messaging application, have been detected in the Turkish capital. Speaking to reporters Kocaman said most of these users have been interrogated or face legal action. “However”, Kocaman said, “due to the workload of the security and judicial departments, it has not been possible to launch a legal process for all the detected users.”

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has also said on Wednesday that more than 48,000 people have been remanded in custody across Turkey over alleged links to Gülen movement since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. “So far, a total of 48,739 people have been remanded in custody as part of the fight against FETÖ,” Soylu told a parliamentary session of the Planning and Budget Commission.

“Nineteen important operations” have been carried out since last year’s defeated coup, and state institutions have been largely cleared of FETÖ members. FETÖ is a derogatory term coined by the Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan government and his henchmen to refer to members of the civic Gülen movement.

Saying that and eight holdings and 1,020 companies seized by Turkish gov’t as part of operations into the movement, Soylu has also added the police also identified around 215,000 ByLock users. “The app was used by 147 top managers of the organization,” he said, underlining legal proceedings had been initiated against 23,171 ByLock users.

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.

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 President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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