Turkish gov’t detains at least 20 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has detained at least 20 people across Turkey on Monday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

A total of 11 people were detained by police in Gediz district of western Kütahya province over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock. The detentions came after Gediz Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants for the suspects over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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.

Another operation in northern Samsun province also saw one on-duty non-commissioned officer at Coast Guard Black Sea Region Command detained as part of a probe into the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, police detained 6 people in Muğla province over allegations that they have been organising the alleged members of the Gülen movement to cross illegally into Greece and Italy. Police have also detained 6 other people over their alleged use of ByLock  in both western İzmir province and southwestern Muğla province on Monday.

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 Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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 Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, 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.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “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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