Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for at least 399 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

Arrested officer

Turkish government has issued detention warrants for at least 399 people, including military officers on duty, on Tuesday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency has reported that İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued the detention warrants for 170 people, including 144 on-duty military officers, as part of an İstanbul-based investigation in 38 provinces across Turkey against the alleged members of the movement.

Also on Tuesday, Mersin Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 96 people on Tuesday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement with the claim of using mobile phone messaging application ByLock. Following the detention warrants police has organised raids to 111 houses and 2 study centres in the province and detained 88 people.

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.

Moreover, 47 people were detained during the police raids in 33 provinces on Tuesday across Turkey following the detention warrants issued by Konya Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 80 people over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was reported that the head of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Konya youth branch is also among the wanted people.

Also in Gaziantep province, 26 people were detained over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Tuesday while 15 people were detained in Hatay, İstanbul, Sivas, Kahramanmaraş, Ankara, Sakarya, Batman, Erzurum, Şanlıurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis, Trabzon and Adana provinces in a Malatya-based investigation targeting the alleged members of the movement.

Five businessmen in İzmir province were detained on Tuesday over their alleged sponsorship for the inter-cultural dialogue activities of İzmir Inter-cultural Dialogue Center (İZDİM), which was closed down by a government decree under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, following the detention warrants issued by İzmir’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 7 businessmen. It was reported that İsmail Selim Doğanata, who was one of the shareholders of Fatih Koleji and İzmir University which were also closed by a government decree, has also been among the detainees.

Turkish gendarmerie teams have detained 5 people on Tuesday in Havsa district of Edirne over their alleged links to the Gülen movement as they were allegedly trying to flee from Turkey to Greece.

Turkish government has detained at least 567 people as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement over the past week, according to government data. In a written statement on Monday, the Turkish Interior Ministry said that 567 people were rounded up in operations targeting the Gülen movement between Feb. 12-Feb. 19, 2018.

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 Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip 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 Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, on December 13, 2017, 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, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “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.”

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