Turkish gov’t detains 16 foreign students over alleged links to Gülen movement

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The Turkish government detained 16 foreign students — 10 from Somalia, three from Djibouti, two from Guinea and one student from Syria — in Mersin province on Saturday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported that the students were detained after police raided a house supported by the Gülen movement. Police have reportedly been hunting seven other students as part of the same probe.

Meanwhile, 13 active duty military officers were detained on Saturday during simultaneous operations conducted in nine Turkish provinces, including Ankara. Kırıkkale in Central Anatolia and Diyarbakır in the east. The detentions came after the Kırıkkale Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued warrants for the soldiers as part of a probe into alleged members of 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 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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