Turkish gov’t detains 853 people in one week over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Monday that 853 people were detained across Turkey during the week of March 26-April 2, bringing the total number of people detained in the first three months of 2018 to 8,188, part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The Turkish Interior Ministry had announced on March 26 that 568 people were detained the previous week due to alleged links to the movement. Turkish police detained a total of 4,725 people over suspected links to the movement in the first two months of 2018.

Mewanhile, at least 33 people were detained across Turkey over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Monday.

In central Konya province, 15 active duty military officers were taken into custody on Monday over alleged links to the movement following the issuance of detention warrants for dozens of people, increasing the number of detainees to 57.

The detentions came following an investigation launched on March 29 into alleged members of the Gülen movement. Last Thursday, the Konya Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 70 active duty military officers in 38 provinces across the country.

Also on Monday, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 25 people over suspected links to the Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. According to the report, 18 of the 25 have been detained in police raids in four provinces.

Separately, the police also took 18 people, including former executives of Hacettepe Teknokent, a technocity in Ankara, into custody on Monday over alleged links to the movement. The prosecutor’s office said in a statement they were detained in Ankara, İstanbul, Kocaeli and Bursa provinces.

Also in a Bolu-based probe on Monday, police detained six active duty military officers in six provinces over 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 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.

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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