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

Turkish government has detained dozens of people, including teachers, students and military officers on Tuesday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Police have detained 12 people, including teachers and university students, in Adana province on Tuesday over their alleged use of a mobile phone messaging application, Bylock.

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 a Kars-based investigation, 11 out of 25 military officers who were detained in 12 provinces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, were arrested by a local court and sent to prison on Tuesday.

Also in Adana province, 4 people including a hotel owner and its manager were detained over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency has reported that Adil Öksüz, a top suspect in a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, hosted a meeting at the hotel in Adana’s Seyhan district.

In southeastern province of Diyarbakır, police conducted simultaneous raids on Tuesday and detained at least 7 people over their alleged use of ByLock and links to the Gülen movement.

In central Anatolian province of Aksaray, 4 pharmacists were detained on Tuesday over their alleged links to the movement.

In northwestern province of Edirne, a former Foreign Ministry staffer, who has allegedly had links to the Gülen movement, was detained while attempting to flee Turkey. Later, the detained person was arrested and sent to a prison by a local court.

Meanwhile, a high criminal court in Kastamonu province handed a jail term of 15 years to a former teacher over his alleged links to the Gülen movement by charging him for “founding or managing an armed terrorist organization.”

In Ordu province, a man was sentenced to more than 6 years in jail for using the Bylock mobile phone messaging application.

Also, in Adana, one person was given a jail sentence of over 6 years for allegedly being a member of the Gülen movement. In Sanlıurfa provincea businessman was sentenced to over 7 years in jail for using the Bylock app.

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.

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