Turkish gov’t detains dozens after detention warrants issued for 85 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government on Wednesday detained dozens of people following the issuance of detention warrants for 85 suspects, mostly military officers, across Turkey as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 30 serving and former military officers, including 12 on active duty, in the Turkish Naval Forces on Wednesday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The list of detainees includes four colonels, three lieutenant colonels, two majors, seven captains, eight lieutenants and six non-commissioned officers. All of them were reportedly detained by police on the same day.

Police also detained 17 military personnel, including 12 active duty officers, in 10 provinces on Wednesday in a Samsun-based investigation into alleged members of the Gülen movement. The detainees also include four cadets and a military officer who was dismissed by a government decree over his alleged links to the movement.

Meanwhile, 14 people were detained on Wednesday in İstanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Düzce, Kocaeli, Mersin, Erzincan, Yozgat, Aydın, Adıyaman, Afyonkarahisar and Erzurum provinces in an İstanbul-based investigation into alleged members of the Gülen movement. The detentions came following the issuance of detention warrants by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 33 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 using ByLock since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Also on Wednesday, police detained Prof. Dr. B.A.T., the head physician at the Alanya Teaching and Research Hospital, attached to Alaaddin Keykubat University in Antalya province, and his wife A.T. in Alanya over their alleged membership in the Gülen movement.

On Tuesday, police detained three academics in Gaziantep province over their alleged links to the movement. Since the academics had invoked the active remorse law, they were released by the court on judicial probation.

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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