Turkish gov’t detains and sentences dozens of people over alleged links to Gülen movement

As part of an ongoing witch-hunt targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement, Turkish government has detained and sentenced dozens of people on Friday. At least 72 people were detained on Friday in the Turkish provinces of İzmir and Malatya, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

According to the report 45 people were detained in houses in Malatya where members of the movement were claimed to be hiding, in an investigation launched by the Malatya Chief Prosecutor’s Office into the Gülen movement.

In a similar development in the western province İzmir, police detained 27 people including a nephew of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the Gülen movement, as part of an investigation being conducted by the İzmir Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

Also on Friday, 7 people including 3 women were detained in Erzincan province over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock. The detentions came following the detention warrants issued by Erzincan Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 9 people.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the 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.

Turkish gendarme have detained 5 people on Friday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement as they have allegedly tried to flee from Turkey to Greece. It was reported that the detainees are public servants, engineers and teachers. The 4 children were also detained together with their parents by the gendarme and then handed over to their relatives.

Meanwhile, 28-year-old S.A.K. was detained on Thursday while visiting her husband, under arrest over alleged links to the Gülen movement. According to a report by the Kronos online news portal, the woman went to Osmaniye Prison to visit her husband M.K., who has been held in pre-trial detention since early August 2016. When she entered the prison, she was detained by security guards as part of an investigation launched by the Konya 2nd High Criminal Court. The woman was detained on suspicion of membership in the Gülen movement.

Dozens of women have been detained in Turkey while visiting their imprisoned husbands in past months, with their children either separated from them and given to family members or taken to jail with the mothers. In late January, after a story broke about five children left alone in front of Sincan Prison in Ankara as their mother was detained while they were visiting their father. The elder brother shared a video, saying in tears: “We are five brothers, left alone. We have a handicapped brother. I commend those people to God’s punishment.”

Also on Thursday, an Ankara court has issued a detention warrant for Nevin İpek, the wife of Akın İpek, a Turkish businessman who is being sought by the Turkish government over his alleged links to the Gülen movement. The Ankara 24th High Criminal court issued the warrant after İpek failed to appear at an ongoing trial that includes İpek family members and the Koza-İpek Holding.

Akın İpek and his family have been under immense pressure from Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government due to alleged links to the movement. On Oct. 24, 2015, the Erdoğan government appointed trustees to take over the management of dozens of companies belonging to the İpek family in addition to several media outlets operating under the İpek Media Group due to their critical stance against the government.

Several Turkish courts have already confiscated some TL 12 billion (about $4 billion) in property that belonged to the İpek family, according to a statement by Minister for Environment and Urbanization Mehmet Özhaseki on Sept. 1, 2016.

In June 2016 Nevin İpek’s passport was cancelled by Turkish officials after it was allegedly reported lost by someone other than herself. “The Turkish Embassy in London has not returned the passport to its owner because it was allegedly reported lost. This issue cannot be explained by law, reason or ethics. Are we sad? Yes. But we are not sad about what they did to us, we are sad to see what our government has become,” Akın İpek said on June 2, 2016.

Furthermore, a Kastamonu court has handed down prison sentences varying between 3 years and 9 years to four teachers on charges of membership in the Gülen movement. According to the Sol news portal, during the last hearing of the trial at the Kastamonu 2nd High Criminal Court, teacher Latif Yaman was given a prison sentence of 9 years; Hakan Doğan was given 7 years, 6 months; İsmail Çalış was given 6 years, 3 months and Hayati Tarhan was given 3 years, 1 month and 15 days in prison.

Two separate courts in Turkey have also sentenced 51 people on Friday for being alleged members of the Gülen movement. The 2nd High Criminal Court in the central Eskişehir province handed jail terms for up to seven years to 46 dismissed security personnel.

A high criminal court in the central province of Sivas sentenced 5 people for up to 10 years in jail for being alleged members of the movement and allegedly using ByLock, a mobile phone messaging app the government believe to be used by the members of the Gülen movement to communicate.

Karabük High Criminal Court has also sentenced 10 dismissed and jailed police chiefs and police officers to 6 years and 3 months in prison for being alleged member of the Gülen movement on Friday.

On Friday, also Kırıkkale 1st High Criminal Court has sentenced 18 dismissed and arrested police officers to between 1 year and 6 months to 8 years and 9 months in prison over their alleged links to 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.

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 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. (SCF with turkeypurge.com & turkishminute.com)

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