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

The Turkish government has continued to detain dozens of people as part of its massive post-coup witch-hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The Kayseri Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 12 people, with police detaining nine of them on Wednesday 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.

Also on Wednesday police detained seven people for alleged links to the Gülen movement as they were apparently trying to flee from Turkey to Greece in Edirne province. Two people who have reportedly been assisting alleged members of the movement to flee were also detained, later arrested by a local court and put in pretrial detention.

On Tuesday police detained eight military officers, including one who had previously been dismissed from his post, in five provinces as part of an Aksaray-based probe into alleged members of the Gülen movement.

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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