Turkish gov’t detained 567 people over alleged links to Gülen movement in a week

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-Feb19, 2018.

On Monday, 23 military peronnel, including 14 on-duty military officers and non-commissioned officers were detained by Turkish police during police raids in 20 provinces across Turkey following the detention warrants issued by Ağrı Chief Prosecutor Office for 25 people over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Also on Sunday, 9 women were detained by police during raids in 10 provinces across Turkey over their alleged links to the Gülen movement following the detention warrants issued by Trabzon Chief Prosecutor’s Office for them.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has ruled that money deposits to now-defunct Bank Asya  could also be submitted as evidence of aiding and abetting to the Gülen movement. Bank Asya, a Turkish bank that had been affiliated with the Gülen movement by the Turkish government. Following the 2016 coup attempt, Turkish Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) cancelled Bank Asya’s banking permissions and closed the bank down.

Overseeing former school teacher’s indictment, Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that money deposits to Bank Asya in 2014, former teachers only link to the movement, could be submitted as evidence of ties to the movement.  The court ruled that bank accounts could also be submitted as evidence of “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization,” a crime punishable by decades behind bars.

It was also reported that a detention warrant was issued for Hidayet Kadiroğlu, the owner of the leading chocolate and candy producer, Elvan Gıda, on Feb. 12. At least seven senior executives of an İstanbul-based exporters’ union were detained as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement earlier last week. Turkish media has reported on Saturday that Kadiroglu is wanted as part of the same investigation.

The prosecutor in charge has accused the suspects of depositing money into Bank Asya, the Islamic lender founded by the businessmen affiliated with the Gülen movement in 1996, which was confiscated by the government in May 2016, and completely closed on July 22, 2016. The union’s affiliate, Turkish Confectionery and Sweet Promotion Group (ŞTG) which is chaired by Kadiroğlu, allegedly deposited some TL 4 million [$1,1 million] in Bank Asya.

Before the confiscation, Bank Asya was put under political and economic pressure by the government asking its loyals to withdraw their funds from the “traitor’s bank.” Those who deposited money into Bank Asya are often accused of financial support to the movement.

Established in 1952, Elvan employs more than 1,500 people in 6 factories across Turkey and 2 others abroad to produce sweet and chocolate products for more than 100 countries. The company made it into the world’s top 100 confectionery producers in 2013. The Turkish government has earlier arrested the country’s leading baklava makers over similar charges.

Moreover, a luxury mansion with a view of Bursa’s Uludag was seized from a businessman, identified as S.Ş., upon a complaint that it was allegedly constructed for the use of Fethullah Gülen. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported that Bursa’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation upon a 2016 news article which claimed that the mansion was built for Gülen’s own use.

The prosecutor’s office expanded the investigation to consult an anonymous witness with alleged knowledge on the issue. “Rumors have it that Fethullah Gülen will be staying here when he returns to Turkey,” the witness said leading the prosecutor to demand a seizure order from a related court. The Bursa’s 3rd Penal Court of Peace subsequently seized the mansion, AA reported on Feb 13. The scenic residence’s owner S.Ş. has been standing trial without arrest.

More than 1,000 companies with a total value of $12 billion in assets have been seized and then transferred to Turkey’s Saving and Deposit Fund (TMSF) since the controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The companies in question were mostly targeted as part of the government crackdown against the Gülen movement.

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, 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.” (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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