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

Arrested officer

Turkish government has detained at least 46 people and issued detention warrants for more on Wednesday across Turkey as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the pacifist Gülen movement.

Turkish police have detained as many as 20 people in İstanbul over their alleged links to the movement since they deposited money into now-closed private lender Bank Asya which was affiliated with the Gülen movement. It was reported the detentions came following the detention warrants issued by İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 36 people.

Bank Asya’s banking license was cancelled on July 22, 2016, seven days after the defeated coup, by Turkey’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BBDK) which is under strict control of Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

In a separate operation in southern Antalya province, 10 people were detained over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock on Wednesday. On the same day, a total of 9 people were detained over several charges, including alleged use of ByLock as part of a probe launched by Chief Prosecutor’s Office in central Kayseri province.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the 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 the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

In central Eskişehir province, 4 people, in western provinces Aydın and Balıkesir, 2 military officers and the wife of one of the military officers were also detained on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, Tokat Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 12 on-duty military officers in 8 different provinces across Turkey. Police have launched simultenous operations to detain sought military officers in Ankara, Batman, Eskişehir, Kayseri, Kırklareli, Kilis, Konya and Şırnak provinces.

Meanwhile, a local court has ruled on Wednesday to jail 6 of 13 people who were detained in Çorum province over accusations of participating protest before Çorum Courthouse to protest the seizure of critical Zaman daily by Turkish government. Other 7 detainees were released over judicial probe.

Following to detention warrants issued by Çorum Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 27 people on January 19, 2018, police have detained them and the 14 of the detainees were transferred to the court and 5 of them were jailed on January 24, 2018.

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 Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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 Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, 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.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “Even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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