Turkish gov’t detains at least 25 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government on Wednesday issued detention warrants for 56 people and detained at least 25 as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, police detained 22 people on Wednesday in 15 provinces across Turkey following the issuance of detention warrants for 56 people over their alleged use of the ByLock mobile phone messaging app.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among 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 allegedly using ByLock since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The detentions were made by police in İstanbul, Amasya, Bilecik, Bitlis, Erzurum, Eskişehir, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Konya, Isparta, İzmir, Manisa, Mersin, Tekirdağ and Uşak provinces.

Mehmet Fecri Yıldız

Meanwhile, police also detained Mehmet Fecri Yıldız, a dismissed former chief in the intelligence department at police headquarters, in İstanbul on Wednesday over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Erkan İnce, a former human resources manager for the Turkish Armed Forces, and Selim Bulut, a member of the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) and an alleged user of ByLock, were also detained by police on Wednesday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

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 about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. 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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