Turkish gov’t detains 36 on-duty soldiers, police officers over alleged links to Gülen movement

File photo.

At least 36 people, including on-duty military officers and police officers, were detained across Turkey on Saturday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the movement.

In eastern Erzurum province, 9 people, including 7 on-duty military officers were detained as part of a probe launched by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office.  In southern Adana province, a married couple and a person allegedly responsible for a local magazine, which was allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement, were caught for using ByLock, a smartphone messaging application.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the 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 the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Moreover, in a joint operation conducted by southern Osmaniye’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office in three provinces, 8 people were detained over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Another 15 suspects including police officers, teachers, and nurses were also detained in southern province of Mersin. Also 1 on-duty soldier was detained  in northwestern Balıkesir province on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Birol Kay, an electrician who was arrested in early August 2016 on coup charges, was allegedly rushed to the hospital with a heart attack on Thursday. A social media user with the username “@demokrat342” on Thursday took to Twitter to claim that Kay who has been held in a prison in Edirne for the past 15 months, had a heart attack in his cell.

“Birol Kay is an electrician in Kırklareli. He had neither ByLock nor anything else. He has not seen a trial [even though] he has been under arrest for 15 months. He had a heath attack in prison. He is in intensive care in Edirne,” the twitter account tweeted. However, the claim has not been verified by any other media outlets.

 

Murat Gülen, a 60-year-old villager who was detained after he publicly questioned the government’s narrative over the July 15, 2016 coup attempt during a video interview by the pro-government İhlas news agency, was arrested by a court on Friday and put in pre-trial detention in Erzurum.

On Thursday, İhlas published the video recording, filmed in Fethullah Gülen’s hometown of Korucuk village, and media reported the same day that Gülen was taken into police custody for questioning.

 

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 Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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