Turkish gov’t detains 400 people in one week over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Monday that 400 people have been detained in one week due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a botched coup attempt last summer.

The ministry has also announced on Monday that six people have been detained over the past week on charges of disseminating propaganda on social media on behalf of the Gülen movement, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The ministry said investigations were launched into 679 social media users and that the identities of 242 were confirmed, leading to the detention of six people between July 21 and July 28. The posts allegedly disseminated terrorist propaganda and praised terrorist organizations as well as provoking people to hatred, revenge and enmity and insulting state authorities.

Meanwhile, Ömer Çatkıç, a former Turkish national football team goalkeeper who was detained on August 22 over alleged links to the Gülen movement, accused of being behind a failed coup last year, was arrested by a court on Monday.

According to the CNN Türk website, Çatkıç was arrested by the İstanbul 7th Penal Court of Peace on Monday for having a ByLock smartphone application, which Turkish authorities believe is a communication tool among followers of the movement, and depositing over a $1 million in Bank Asya, which was shut down by the government for its alleged links to the movement.

Last week, İstanbul police raided Çatkıç’s house and seized electronic devices including his smartphone, on which ByLock was reportedly downloaded. He was taken to the İstanbul Police Department for interrogation.

Having started his career as a professional goalkeeper with Eskişehirspor in 1992, Çatkıç worked at Gaziantepspor, Antalyaspor, Denizlispor and with the national team. He retired in 2012.

Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President 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’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 turkishminute.com)

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