Turkish gov’t detains 702 people over alleged links to Gülen movement over last week

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The Turkish government has detained 702 people across Turkey over the past week (April 9-April 16) 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 20 people, including six women, in four provinces on Sunday as part of investigations into the Gülen movement conducted by the Adana Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Also on Monday, Zafer Kılıç, a former prosecutor, was detained in Turkey’s northwestern Edirne province while trying to flee to Greece. Kılınç was the prosecutor of the sensational military espionage and adultery scandal in İzmir province. Kılınç, his wife, and two daughters were also detained by police in İpsala district along the Greek border.

Kılınç was the prosecutor of the case involving 357 suspects, including 49 active duty soldiers, who faced trial at the İzmir 5th High Criminal Court in 2013 on charges of “keeping confidential military information and documents.”

The Turkish government detained a total of 8,188 people over alleged links to the movement in the first three months of 2018.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Monday that police detained 1,034 people, 274 of whom were military personnel, in the first two weeks of April over their alleged links to the movement.

At least 125 of the detainees were referred to court and put in pretrial detention on charges of membership in the Gülen movement.

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 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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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