Turkish gov’t detains 44 people over their alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government detained dozens of people across Turkey on Thursday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Police took 12 people into custody in 13 Turkish provinces on Thursday following the issuance of detention warrants by the Mersin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 23 people over alleged links to the Gülen movement. The detainees were reportedly users of the ByLock mobile phone messaging application.

Also on Thursday, police detained 14 people in Konya province on warrants issued by the provincial chief public prosecutor’s office for 17 people over their alleged use of ByLock.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Police have also detained 15 military officers, who were dismissed by government decrees under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, in 16 provinces across Turkey on Thursday as part of a southwestern Muğla province-based probe targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Also, police have detained a former military officers in central Eskişehir province and 2 people in northern Sinop province as well.

At least 38 people were detained countrywide on Wednesday over their alleged links to the 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.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency has reported on March 15, 2018 that at least 402,000 people have been the subject of legal proceedings initiated by the Turkish government over alleged links 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, 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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