Turkish gov’t detains at least 70 people, mostly on-duty military officers, over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has detained at least 70 people, including on-duty military officers across the country on Wednesday morning over their alleged links to Gülen movement as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting the alleged members of the movement.

It was reported that 18 military officers were detained in 20 different provinces of Turkey after Tokat Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 34 people, including one on-duty lieutenant and 28 non-commissioned officers, two specialized sergeants, and three former lieutenants.

Another group of 34 people, including 24 on-duty military officers, were detained on Wednesday in an investigation launched in 26 provinces after Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 56 people over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

It was also reported that a separate investigation is in progress in 13 different provinces after detention warrants for 32 people were issued by Bitlis Chief Prosecutor’s Office over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Wednesday. The people are accused of using smartphone messaging application ByLock.

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.

Meanwhile, in a Balıkesir-based investigation 19 non-commissioned military officers and a civilian were detained in 13 provinces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Wednesday.

Turkish government has also detained more than 85 people, including military officers and doctors across Turkey for their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Tuesday. According to a report by state-run Anadolu news agency, Turkish police raids in more than a dozen of Turkish provinces saw a total of 85 detentions for their alleged links to the movement and for using ByLock messaging app. 35 military officers including a specialized sergeant and 31 on-duty military officers were among the detainees in Tokat and Zonguldak provinces.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President 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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