Turkish gov’t detains and arrests tens of people over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has detained and arrested tens of people on Saturday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the civic Gülen movement.

Police have detained 10 out of 15 people in İstanbul’s Kadıköy district on Saturday following detention warrants issued for them over their alleged links to the movement.

Moreover, 9 people were detained in Marmaris district of Muğla province on Saturday as they were allegedly preparing to flee from Turkey to a Greek island by a boat. It was reported that there have been outstanding detention warrants for these people after they were dismissed from their public duties by government decrees under the rule of emergency over their alleged links to the Gülen movement basing on their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock.

A local court in Balıkesir province has arrested 24 out of 61 people on Friday who were detained on October 25, 2017 during police raids in 17 provinces across Turkey following detention warrants issued for 82 people over their alleged use of ByLock. The court has released 38 people with judicial probation.

Meanwhile, a court in Ankara province has arrested 7 Foreign Ministry personnel and sent them to jail over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. According to the reports, Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office had issued detention warrants for 30 diplomats, out of whom 15 were presented before a court. The court has decided to arrest 7 of them  and ordered the release of the rest with judicial probation. The detained diplomats were earlier dismissed from duty for their alleged use of ByLock.

Police have detained 16 people in Ağrı, İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Bursa, Van, Diyarbakır and Elazığ provinces in an Ağrı-based investigation following the detention warrants issued by Chief Prosecutor’s Office in the city for 22 people over their alleged use of ByLock. It was reported that there are police officers, imams, public servants, university students and shopkeepers among the detainees.

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.

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 Turkey’s 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 civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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