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

The Turkish government detained dozens of people, including teachers, military officers and police officers, on Wednesday across Turkey as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency (AA), 21 people were detained on Wednesday in southwestern Muğla province over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The report said the detainees have allegedly been providing financial assistance to needy people who are family members of individuals who were dismissed from their jobs or imprisoned over alleged Gülen links.

In separate police raids, 11 people, including three women, were detained on Wednesday in eight provinces including Uşak, İstanbul, İzmir and Antalya over their alleged links to the movement. Police reportedly seized computers and documents belonging to the detainees. They were also also accused of using the ByLock mobile phone messaging application.

Turkish authorities believe that 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.

A specialist sergeant was also detained by in central Eskişehir province on Wednesday over his alleged links to the movement.

Meanwhile, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 33 teachers on Wednesday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. These people were accused of operating illegal preparation courses for university exams in seven separate locations.

At least 17 dismissed, suspended or retired police officers and police chiefs, including C.D., the former director of the Bursa Police College, were detained in Bursa and İstanbul provinces on Wednesday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, at least three people were detained in Edirne, in northwestern Turkey, on Wednesday when they were attempting to cross into Greece. Gendarmes in Edirne province stopped a vehicle in the Meriç district and detained three people who were wanted by the Turkish government for alleged membership in the Gülen movement and for alleged use of ByLock.

A total of 127 people who were trying to cross into Greece or Bulgaria to escape from the indiscriminate persecution of the Erdoğan regime have been detained since the beginning of this year in Edirne.

On Tuesday, seven people were detained by police in five provinces as part of an investigation launched in Tekirdağ province over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was reported that the detainees are employees of the finance and tax administration in Tekirdağ.

Moreover, 55 people who are allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement were given jail sentences ranging between one and 10 years in a trial concerning police exam fraud in Ankara on Wednesday. According to a report by AA, a total of 62 people were tried on charges of allegedly leaking questions ahead of the Police Academy entrance exam in 2012.

Ankara’s 15th High Criminal Court handed down jail terms ranging from one year, six months to nine years, seven months to 55 people on charges of alleged membership in an “armed terror group.” The court also handed down up to three years, four months to 27 of the total defendants on the charge of “committing fraud.” Seven other suspects in the case were released.

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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