Turkish gov’t detained 467 people over alleged links to Gülen movement in 1st week of 2018

Turkish government has detained at least 467 people as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement over the past week, according to a statement made by Turkish Interior Ministry on Monday.

In a written statement on Monday, the Interior Ministry said 467 people were rounded up in operations targeting the Gülen movement between January 1-8, 2018.

Meanwhile, Tokat Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants on Monday for 34 people, including 19 on-duty military officers over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The provincial gendarmerie command units launched an operation across 17 provinces to arrest the suspects.

In a separate probe, the same office has issued detention warrants on Monday for 11 other people, including judges, prosecutors and lawyers, as part of an ongoing investigation into the movement.

In an Ağrı-based investigation, the detention warrants were issued for 25 military officers and non-commissioned officers over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Monday. Police have organised operations and detained 22 military personnel in Ağrı, İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Balıkesir, Kırklareli, Van, Tekirdağ, Şanlıurfa, Çanakkale, Malatya, Şırnak, Nevşehir, Kocaeli, Sakarya, Mersin, Bilecik, Zonguldak, Kahramanmaraş and Niğde provinces.

Also in Gaziantep province on Monday, the detention warrants were issued for three academics who were released by a court four days ago on judicial probe. Selahattin Bekmez, an economics professor; Servet Demir, an associate professor in the field of physics; and Murat Bağlıbel, an assistant professor of management who were earlier dismissed from their jobs at Gaziantep Univeristiy spent months behind bars before being released on January 4, 2018.

The trio is accused of having alleged links to the Gülen movement. The prosecutor overseeing their case filed objection to the release of the academics and a Gaziantep court has issued arrest warrants to jail them again.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempton 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 had 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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