Turkish gov’t detains 53 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government on Tuesday detained 53 people across Turkey, mostly police and military officers, as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Police took 26 police officers into custody on Tuesday in Bursa province following the issuance of detention warrants by the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The detained officers were reportedly dismissed from their jobs by government decrees under a now-ended two-year-long state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Also on Tuesday, police detained 10 people, including seven non-commissioned officers, in six provinces in a Kahramanmaraş-based investigation targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

In an Adana investigation on Tuesday, 12 people, including military cadets and police college students who were dismissed by government decrees, were detained by police in six provinces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, four people were detained by gendarmes over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Tuesday in the Meriç district of Edirne province as they were reportedly trying to reach the border to flee persecution in Turkey to Greece.

The detainees were identified as T.K. (34), M.K. (37) N.K. (37) and M.K. (37). The detainees have reportedly been accused of having an account at the now-closed Bank Asya and of 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 allegedly using ByLock since the 2016 coup attempt.

Police detained Canip B. (44) in Karabük province over his alleged links to the Gülen movement on Tuesday. Canip B. reportedly used to work as the general director of some schools that were closed by the Turkish government over their alleged affiliation with the movement.

Moreover, an Ankara court extended the period of detention for 107 military officers from Turkish Air Forces Command at the request of the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday. Police had detained 107 military officers following the issuance of detention warrants on Friday for 110 military officers from the Air Forces Command, including three colonels, two lieutenant colonels, six majors, three captains, 19 lieutenants and 77 noncommissioned officers over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

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 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 about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. 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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