Turkish gov’t detains 587 people for alleged links to Gülen movement over last week

The Turkish government has detained 587 people across Turkey over the past week (April 30-May 7) as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement, according to a written statement released by the Interior Ministry on Monday.

Police detained a total of 10,472 people over alleged links to the movement in the first four months of 2018.

Also on Monday, in an İstanbul-based investigation, police detained 16 people in raids in 25 provinces across Turkey over their alleged links to the Gülen movement following the issuance of detention warrants by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 52 people who allegedly used 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 using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

It was also reported that the detainees include police chiefs, doctors, teachers and engineers who were dismissed from their civil service jobs by government decrees under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Polis detained 14 people, including 13 active duty military officers in Balıkesir province on Monday over alleged links to the Gülen movement. The detentions came after the issuance of detention warrants for 20 people.

Also on Monday, in a Hakkari-based probe eight people were detained during operations in 10 provinces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. According to a written statement by the Hakkari Governor’s Office, the detentions came after warrants were issued for 15 people over their alleged use of ByLock.

Moreover, 24 people, including 18 active duty military officers, who were detained in eight provinces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement in an Eskişehir-based probe were referred to court on Monday.

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 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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