Turkish gov’t detains a number of people over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government on Wednesday issued detention warrants and detained a number of people as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Turkish prosecutors issued detention warrants on Wednesday for 14 allegedly Gülen movement-affiliated people over suspected fraud in an official examination. The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that the warrants were issued for police personnel and teachers after they were found to have allegedly obtained the questions of an examination for police promotions beforehand and distributed them among people claimed to be members of the Gülen movement in 2011.

Financial crimes police have so far detained three of the 14 being sought, while eight were already in prison on a variety of charges, according to the statement.

In northern Tokat province, another six allegedly Gülen movement-affiliated people were detained as part of an investigation into judges and prosecutors who have suspected links to the movement. The detention of four former judges and prosecutors and two judge candidates came after the provincial prosecutor’s office issued detention warrants for them.

Also on Wednesday, 11 active duty noncommissioned officers in Turkish Navy were detained over claimed links to the Gülen movement. The detentions took place following the issuance of warrants by İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 15 noncommissioned officers and a teacher.

Three former Turkish military officers were also given aggravated life sentences on Wednesday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. İstanbul’s 27th High Criminal Court convicted Erdal Şeker, Mehmet Akif Aslan and Süleyman Ahmet Kaya of violating the constitutional order the night of the coup bid during a raid on the Doğan Media Center in which Vedat Barçegçi was killed. Kaya was given another aggravated life sentence as he was also convicted of the murder of Barçegçi.

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 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.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on March 15, 2018 that at least 402,000 people have been the subject of legal proceedings initiated by the Turkish government over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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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