Turkish gov’t detains dozens of people on Friday over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement has continued on Friday with dozens of new detentions in number of provinces across Turkey.

Turkish police detained 26 people including 11 women in Zonguldak province on Friday on accusations that they use a smart phone application known as ByLock. Police seized mobiles, computers and some documents during raids on the houses of 21 people, including students and dismissed state workers, as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement.

Also in Muğla province and in its districts 31 people were detained by police teams on Friday following the detention warrants issued by Muğla Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 37 people over their alleged use of ByLock and depositing money into private lender Bank Asya. The bank was closed by a government decree under the rule of law declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, over its affiliation with the Gülen movement.

Turkish police has also detained 22 people in Kocaeli province in 2 police operations targeting the people who were allegedly using ByLock and those who were dismissed from police departments. According to a statement made by Kocaeli Chief Prosecutor’s Office, detention warrants were issued for 11 police officers and 4 police chiefs for 2nd operation; 2 police chiefs and 8 police officers were detained by police on Friday.

In an İzmir-based investigation, 10 people, including military officers on duty, were detained by gendermarie teams in 6 Turkish provinces as part of post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement. The suspects who were allegedly using ByLock were detained in İzmir, Ankara, Samsun, Ağrı, Eskişehir and Kahramanmaraş provinces.

Also, in a Ordu-based investigation, 18 people were detained by police in 5 provinces of Turkey on Thursday over their alleged use of ByLock. Police teams have detaines 18 people in Ordu, Yozgat, İstanbul, Ankara and Trabzon provinces.

Turkish authorities believe using ByLock is a sign of being a Gülen movement member as they see the mobile phone application as the top communication tool among the group. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

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