Turkish gov’t detains 25 gendarmerie officers over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish police on Saturday detained 25 gendarmerie officers including some who had previously been suspended over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement as part of an investigation launched by the Bilecik Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

An İstanbul court on Friday sentenced 10 military officers to life and aggravated life imprisonment for their role in a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Two soldiers were handed down aggravated life imprisonment and eight others were sentenced to life. All former military officers, the defendants are accused of attempting to shut down a main toll road on the city’s European side during the coup bid.

The Ankara and İzmir chief public prosecutor’s offices on Friday issued detention warrants for 197 people, including police officers, military personnel, teachers and executives of the Aksiyon-İş union, in an investigation into 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 Turkish 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 15. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. 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.”

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