Turkish gov’t detains 617 people in one week over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Monday that 617 people have been detained by Turkish government in one week as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The ministry announced on Dec. 18 that 575 people had been detained the previous week.

According to a ministry statement on Nov. 27, 2,589 people were detained in November over alleged links to the movement, bringing the total number of people detained in the October-November period to 5,747.

A total of 3,158 people were detained in October in a witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement.

Also on Monday, at least 24 people were detained across Turkey over their alleged links to the movement. Police arrested 11 people in the Black Sea province of Samsun for allegedly using mobile phone messaging application ByLock.

Turkish police have also detained 23 non-commissioned officers as part of a Kocaeli-run investigation into the Gülen movement, CNN Türk reported on Monday. According to the report the Kocaeli Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 32 active duty non-commissioned officers on Dec. 20. Police have so far detained 23 of them in operations spanning several provinces, while nine are still at large.

In a separate operation in the Mediterranean Antalya province, police also detained 11 people on Monday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Separately, police detained a person in the northwestern Tekirdag province over the same accusation. Also in the central Eskişehir province, police detained a dismissed Turkish Air Force pilot on Monday over his alleged links to Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, a Kayseri man, identified only with his initials G.A., was detained for insulting Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on his social media accounts. It was reported that G.A. was rounded up by police and taken to a nearby police station for interrogation. G.A. is also accused of making propaganda on behalf of the Gülen movement

As of the end of 2016, at least 10,000 people were under investigation on suspicion of terrorist propaganda and insulting senior state officials on social media. A total of 1,080 people were convicted of insulting Erdoğan in 2016, according to data from Turkey’s Justice Ministry. Data also showed that 4,936 cases were launched against people on charges of insult in 2016.

Also on Monday, a court in southern Turkey’s Adana province sentenced 23 dismissed police officers to jail time ranging from 3 to 7 years over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. During the hearing at Adana’s 11th High Criminal Court, the police officers denied all the charges against them. The court released two of them but with a ban on going abroad and sentenced 23 to prison.

The same court on Monday also heard two other people charged over allegedly using ByLock. Both were given by court prison sentences of 6 years.

In the southeastern Siirt province, a local court has also sentenced a person, Ahmet Kıbıcı, on Monday to 11 years in prison over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

In the central Kırşehir province, a local court has sentenced 2 people to over 10 years in prison. Former police officer Hasan Alpaslan İlter was given 10 years and 6 months, while a closed down Gülen movement affiliated dormitory administrator, Hakan Kanat, was given 15 years in prison on Monday.

Also, in the southern Antalya province, the court has decided on Monday to jail 11 people who were detained in December 13, 2017 over their alleged links to the movement.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with autocratic 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.

Amid an ongoing witch-hunt targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 12 that 55,665 people have been jailed and 234,419 passports have been revoked as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15 through government decrees issued as part of an ongoing state of emergency.

According to Ministry of Justice data, there are currently 384 prisons with a capacity of 207,279 in Turkey; however, the total number of inmates was 228,983 as of October 2017.

The Turkish Ministry of Justice plans to build 228 new prisons with a capacity of 137,687 in the next five years. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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