Turkish gov’t detains at least 70 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government detained more than 70 people on Friday across Turkey as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, 32 out of 58 detainees have been detained in the simultaneous operations conducted in various provinces, including the capital Ankara, and the western İzmir and southern Isparta provinces.

The detentions came after the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants for 45 police officers including some who were dismissed as part of a probe into the Gülen movement on Friday.

Separately, İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants for 28 people, including on-duty commissioned officers and dismissed officers on Friday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. In operations conducted in 21 provinces, 8 of people, including one lieutenant colonel, were detained.

Meanwhile, 18 people, who were allegedly providing financial support to the Gülen movement’s educational and humanitarian activities, were detained in İstanbul and Yalova provinces.

Also on Friday, at least 11 people were detained as part of police operations targeting followers of the Gülen movement in 13 provinces. Turkish media reported that detention warrants were issued for 20 people over their links to the movement. The detainees include a local reporter for the state-run Anadolu-news agency in Aksaray province.

A Turkish couple, both judges who were earlier dismissed from their posts over alleged ties to the Gülen movement, was detained while reportedly on their way to escape to Greece.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said on Thursday that M.S. and his wife Y.S. were rounded up near Turkey’s Greek border in the western province of Muğla. The couple had had outstanding arrest warrants over alleged Gülen links prior to their attempt. They were put in pretrial detention on charges of membership to a terror organization after they were detained.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt launched by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement in the wake of a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Many tried to escape Turkey via illegal ways as the government cancelled their passports like thousands of others. On Feb 13, at least three people died and five others were missing after a boat carrying a group of eight capsized in the Evros River while seeking to escape a post-coup crackdown in Turkey.

The Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Monday that 489 people have been detained in the past week due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, bringing the total number of people detained in first four months of the year to 10,472.

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 also 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 civil servants since July 15. 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.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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