Turkish gov’t detains 151 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

Arrested officer

Turkish government has detained more than 151 people on Thursday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Police have detained at least 61 people, including military officers and police officers, over their alleged links to the Gülen movement in 30 provinces across Turkey in an Antalya-based investigation on Wednesday and Thursday.

It was reported that police have detained 11 more people on Thursday and thus the number of detainees has increased to 61, including 8 lieutenants and 26 non-commissioned military officers on duty, 6 dismissed non-commissioned officers, a suspended military doctor, 18 students who were dismissed from military and police schools, a public servant and an academic.  On Wednesday, police raided 99 adresses and detained 50 people.

Meanwhile, 24 people, who used to work for Turkish Finance Ministry, were detained in 26 provinces across Turkey on Thursday following the detention warrants issued by Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 79 people, including an on-duty ministry staff, over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The wanted people were accused of allegedly using mobile phone messaging application ByLock, having an account in now-closed Bank Asya, and transferring information belong to the Ministry to the movement, and claim that their marriage were organised by the movement.

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.

Also on Thursday, Edirne Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 13 people over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Police have detained 9 people in Edirne, İstanbul, Kocaeli and Bursa provinces.

Police and gendarme units have also detained 20 people, including teachers, public servants and shopkeepers in Samsun province over their allege links to the Gülen movement on Thursday.

Police have detained 12 people on Thursday in 4 provinces in a Muğla-based investigation following Muğla Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 19 people over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was reported that the suspects were accused of depositing money to their account in now-closed Bank Asya and allegedly used ByLock.

Moreover, in a Balıkesir-based investigation, 25 people were detained in 8 provinces across Turkey on Thursday following the detention warrants issued for 31 people over their alleged use of ByLock.

An Eskişehir court has arrested 45 on-duty military officers and sent them to prison on Thursday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The court has released 19 military officers with a judicial probation. 62 military officers and 2 civilian were detained in 12 provinces across Turkey on November 30, 2017 following the detention warrants issued by Eskişehir Chief Prosecutor’s Officer for 66 people over their alleged links to the 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.

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