Turkish gov’t detains 23 people over their alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government detained 23 people on Saturday in 16 provinces across Turkey in an Aydın-based probe as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Police reportedly detained these 23 people, mostly active duty military officers, following the issuance of detention warrants by the Aydın Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 29 people in Aydın, Denizli, Ankara, İzmir, Muğla, İstanbul, Şırnak, Siirt, Eskişehir, Adana, Kocaeli, Sivas, Elazığ, Afyonkarahisar, Manisa and Balıkesir provinces over their alleged links to 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 autocratic 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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, 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, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said 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.”

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