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

The Turkish government has detained dozens of people across Turkey in the last two days as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

At least 20 military officers were detained in Çanakkale province on Wednesday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The detentions came following the issuance of warrants for 26 military officers, including 2 colonels, one lieutenant colonel, one major, six captains and 16 lieutenants on active duty.

Also on Wednesday, seven people were detained in six provinces in an Uşak-based investigation into alleged members of the Gülen movement. It was reported that the detainees include five active duty military officers, academic A.G.B., and K.Ş., the owner of a local online news outlet.

Moreover, at least 64 people, including military officers, were detained across Turkey for their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Tuesday.

In central Eskişehir province, 13 people were detained by police on Tuesday over alleged links to the movement.

In northern Tokat province, 10 people, including active duty military officers, were detained on Tuesday following the issuance of detention warrants by the Tokat Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 13 people over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

In a Zonguldak-based operation, 10 more people were detained, while in a Kastamonu-based operation, police detained 12 people on Tuesday over their alleged links to the movement.

Also, in northwestern Balıkesir province, six people were detained over their alleged use of  the ByLock mobile phone messaging application.

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.

Moreover, 13 people, including an officer and a cadet, who were expelled from a military school were detained on Tuesday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement as part of an eastern Erzurum-centered investigation.

Meawnhile, in southestern Şanlıurfa province, two alleged members of the Gülen movement were given nine years in jail, while another four people were given two to four years’ imprisonment.

Jail terms ranging from between two and five years were also handed down to four defendants in eastern Malatya province over their alleged Gülen links on Tuesday.

In central Kayseri province a woman who was tried on the charge of membership in the Gülen movement was given a sentence of 10 years in prison on Tuesday. Another defendant was given nine years, four months in western Burdur province over Gülen links.

A sentence of eight years, three months was also handed down to a defendant in Tekirdağ province on Tuesday on similar charges.

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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