Turkish gov’t detains 52 police officers, 16 others over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government detained dozens of people, including 52 police officers, in the first two days of May as part of its massive post coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 30 police officers who were dismissed or suspended by government decrees issued under a state of emergency over alleged links to the movement. Police detained 27 police officers of the 30 being sought in Bursa, Balıkesir, Kütahya, Eskişehir and Mersin provinces.

In a Batman-based investigation, 25 police officers, who were dismissed by government decrees, were also detained by police on Wednesday in 15 provinces across Turkey over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Also on Wednesday, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 10 people, including nine former employees of Turkey’s Undersecretariat of the Treasury, over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Police detained four of them in Ankara and İzmir provinces due to their alleged use of the ByLock mobile phone messaging application.

Turkish authorities believe 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 supposedly using ByLock since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

In central Aksaray province, police detained Levent O. and İbrahim M. on Wednesday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Police detained five people in Antalya and Denizli provinces over their alleged links to the movement on Tuesday. One of them was reportedly released after processing at the police station. Also, in Manisa province, two men and their wives were detained by police on Tuesday on the same accusation.

Meanwhile, the Tokat Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 10 people in Ankara, İstanbul, Kayseri, Mardin, Kahramanmaraş, Samsun, Malatya, Kırıkkale and Çorum provinces including a military officer, three judges, five lawyers and a research assistant who were dismissed by government decrees under the state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Police also detained a lieutenant colonel, identified as Mustafa B., in Eskişehir province over his alleged links to the Gülen movement on Tuesday.

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 also 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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