Turkish gov’t detains at least 40 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government detained at least 40 people on Thursday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Police detained 12 people, including two women, over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Thursday in Eskişehir province as part of an investigation launched by the provincial chief public prosecutor’s office.

In a Kırıkkale-based investigation, police detained 11 people, including active duty military officers, on Thursday in nine provinces over alleged links to the movement. The detentions followed the issuance of warrants for 14 people.

Police also detained 15 military personnel, including four active duty officers, in 10 provinces on Thursday as part of an Erzincan-based investigation into the Gülen movement.

Also on Thursday, prosecutors in Ankara issued detention warrants for 14 Health Ministry personnel over their alleged links to Gülen movement.

According to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, four of the 14 suspects are current ministry personnel, while eight are former staff members and two are retired. Seven out of the 14 suspects have already been detained by police, while the search for the remainder continues.

Meanwhile, according to a statement issued by the Hakkari Governor’s Office on Thursday, a dismissed military officer and his wife were detained by gendarmes in the town of Derecik  as they were trying to flee Turkey because of the indiscriminate persecution carried out by the Turkish government led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

According to the statement, the dismissed major M.K., who had been in pretrial detention over his alleged links to the movement and was later released pending trial, and his wife E.K. were taken to the Derecik Gendarmerie Command.

Also on Thursday, eight out of 90 members of the Turkish military who stood trial on charges of violating the constitution through involvement in a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 have been given aggravated life sentences, the T24 news website reported.

The soldiers were accused of occupying the İstanbul Governor’s Office on the night of the coup.

The İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court also ruled to acquit 80 defendants due to a lack of demonstrable intent, while the remaining two defendants’ cases were left out, indicating another hearing would be held for them. Among the 90 soldiers, 14 were high-ranking officers.

Moreover, in southern Adana province, a former rector of Kanuni University was handed down a six-year, three-month sentence on Thursday over his alleged links to the Gülen movement. A former clerk of the court was also sentenced to six years, three months in prison on similar charges in southeastern Gaziantep province.

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 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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