Turkish gov’t detains 15 people over their alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government detained 15 people, including military officers and cadet candidates, on Friday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

In a Balıkesir-based probe, police detained eight candidates who have been preparing to sit for the military school examination and a noncommissioned officer during Friday raids in seven provinces —  Balıkesir, İstanbul, Şanlıurfa, Tunceli, Bursa, Sakarya and Şırnak — across Turkey over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Also on Friday, six military personnel, including active duty officers, were detained in Ankara, İstanbul, Eskişehir, Burdur, Tunceli and Manisa provinces following the issuance of detention warrants by the Erzincan Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office over their alleged links to the Gülen 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 the coup attempt in July 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 organisation,” 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 more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. 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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