Turkish gov’t detains 25 teachers as 5 more military officers surrender over alleged links to Gülen movement

File photo.

Five more military officers have surrendered to Turkish police over their links to the Gülen movement on Thursday as the government has detained dozens of people, including 25 teachers, as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the movement.

A military officer and a sergeant surrendered to police in Ankara on Thursday over links to the Gülen movement. Also in Kocaeli province a lieutenant colonel, two non-commissioned officers who are on duty at Naval Command and a teacher have also surrendered police on Thursday by saying that they are members of the Gülen movement. It was reported that there have been no investigation about any of these military officers and the teacher who is a wife of a dismissed lieutenant. Thus the number of military officers who have surrendered to police has increased to nine.

Earlier this week, four military officers from the Turkish Land and Naval Forces Command surrendered to Ankara’s Security Directorate following a testimony by former captain Burak Akın. Akın had admitted that he was a member of the Gülen movement on Dec. 27, 2017. He was released under judicial control following his testimony against the movement.

Meanwhile, at least 25 teachers were detained by police in northern Black Sea province of Samsun on Thursday for alleged links to the movement. Among the detainees, 23 were already been dismissed from their public duties by the government under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Turkish police have also detained at least 17 more people on Thursday over alleged links to the Gülen movement. In an İstanbul-based probe 16 people were detained across 16 provinces. Detentions came following the Istanbul prosecutors issued warrants for nine alleged leaders of the movement and 17 lawyers over their alleged links to the movement. Separately, police detained another person in the northwestern province of Tekirdağ over Gülen alleged links.

Furthermore, a total of 24 former Bank Asya shareholders were remanded in prison pending trial over on accusations of membership to the Gülen movement. Last week, police detained 49 former shareholders of the now-closed Islamic lender who had authority to elect the executive board and make trade-related and administrative decisions at Bank Asya.

Media said Wednesday that 24 of the suspects were put in pretrial detention, 15 were released pending trial while the remaining 10 were freed without any charge. The bank was recently declared bankrupt by a regulatory body.

The Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) had taken over management of Bank Asya and took control of 63 percent of its privileged shares, enough to name the board, in February 2015. New board members, a general manager and deputy general managers were immediately appointed.

In the aftermath of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government closed down Bank Asya on the grounds that it was linked to the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, a high criminal court in Ankara has convicted 28 coup suspects on Thursday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The convicts were said to be allegedly involved in a bid to take over the Turk Telekom building during 2016 coup bid.

Thirteen of the convicts were handed down aggravated life sentences each for “an attempt to destroy the constitutional order,” while it gave life imprisonment to 15 others. They were also given a total of 1,519-year jail term for “deprivation of people’s freedom.”

The 17th High Criminal Court in Ankara has also sentenced Erdal Togaç, a former colonel, to 11 years and three months in prison and handed down 10 years’ jail term to each of two former doctors on Thursday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was reported that doctors Fatma Demirel and Buket Erkoyuncu were already dismissed from their positions by government decrees following the coup attempt in 2016. They were reportedly arrested when they attempted to escape abroad illegally.

In northwestern Tekirdağ province, the 3rd High Criminal court has sentenced Nurullah Ata, a former police officer, to nine years in prison over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

In Samsun province, six defendants were also given six-years-and-three-months prison terms each over their alleged Gülen movement links on Thursday. Another high criminal court in Şanlıurfa has sentenced Bayram Kaya, a university student, to nearly seven years in jail for his alleged membership to the Gülen movement.

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 Tuesday. “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.”

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 Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, 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.

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