Turkish gov’t detains dozen of people on Thursday over alleged Gülen links

Turkish government detained dozens of people, mostly active-duty military officers, on Thursday across Turkey as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

In an Erzincan-based investigation into alleged members of the Gülen movement on Thursday, 16 people were detained, including active-duty military officers in 15 provinces across Turkey. Detentions came after issuance of warrants by Erzincan Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 22 people, including 17 active-duty military officers.

Police detained at least 16 people, including active-duty soldiers across Turkey for their suspected links to the Gülen movement in a Bitlis-based investigation. According to a statement by the governor’s office in the eastern Bitlis province, simultaneous operations were launched in 11 provinces on Wednesday. Among the 16 people detained were lieutenant colonels and other commanders.

Police also detained 7 people, including 5 cadets, in a Denizli-based probe on Thursday in Denizli, İstanbul and Bursa provinces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Meanwhile, N.K., a non-commissioned military officer, who resigned from his duty, was detained by police in Eskişehir province over his alleged Gülen links.

At least six people were put in pre-trial detention as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement in İzmir, according to the reports in Turkish media on Thursday. Arrestees include Ali Rıza Doğanata, one of the owners of the İzmir University and Fatih College. Both of the schools were earlier shuttered over links to the Gulen movement.

It was also reported on Thursday by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency that, 412 people were followed by police through electronic handcuffs over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. According to the report, over 40,000 people, who were released by judicial probe, have been traced by police across Turkey because of various accusations.

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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