Turkish gov’t detains 100 people, mostly military personnel, over alleged Gülen links

The Turkish government detained at least 100 people, mostly military personnel, across Turkey on Tuesday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Police detained 20 military officers in 23 provinces following the issuance of detention warrants by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for a group of 34 military officers over their alleged links to the movement. The military personnel consist of 19 active duty officers, four former military cadets and 11 dismissed soldiers. The soldiers on active duty include two colonels, three majors, five lieutenants, five first lieutenants and four sergeants.

Also on Tuesday, 30 gendarmerie personnel were detained by police after detention warrants were issued by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 50 members of the gendarmerie over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

According to a prosecutor’s statement, the detention warrants came after one gendarmerie lieutenant and 49 first lieutenants were accused of links to the Gülen movement based on telephone conversations with alleged members of the movement. Thirty-five of them are gendarmerie forces personnel on active duty.

Police also detained seven military personnel on Tuesday during raids in 12 provinces across Turkey in a Tokat-based investigation targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement. The detentions came following the issuance of detention warrants by the Tokat Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 16 military personnel including seven active-duty noncommissioned officers, three gendarmerie sergeants and six dismissed military cadets.

Moreover, 17 active duty military personnel were detained in 12 Turkish provinces on Tuesday in a Şırnak-based investigation targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement. The detentions came following the issuance of detention warrants by the Şırnak Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 21 active duty military officers. The detainees include a lieutenant, 13 noncommissioned officers and three sergeants.

Meanwhile, it was reported on Tuesday that 25 out 37 people who have been sought over their alleged links to the Gülen movement were detained by police. The İstanbul Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 37 people who used to work for companies that were seized by the government over their alleged links to the movement.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

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 Recep Tayyip 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 about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. 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.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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