Turkish gov’t detains closed Zaman daily’s lawyer Odabaşı over Gülen links

Turkish police detained now-closed Zaman daily’s lawyer Ali Odabaşı allegedly as he was trying to escape persecution of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who carried out a massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The Zaman daily, which was Turkey’s best-selling newspaper, was closed down along with dozens of other media outlets due to their links to the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state run Anadolu news agency on Friday, police has detained lawyer Odabaşı as he was attempting to flee to Greece. It was also reported that lawyer Odabaşı is going to be transferred to Ankara.

The Turkish government has prosecuted 1,539 lawyers, arrested 580 and sentenced 103 lawyers to long prison terms since a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to a report released by The Arrested Lawyers Initiative in April 2018.

Meanwhile, in a Manisa-based investigation, provincial chief prosecutor’s office has issued detention warrants for 37 military officers on Friday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Following the issuance of the warrants police have detained 23 military officers.

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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