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

Dozens of people were detained by Turkish government on Friday  over their alleged links to the Gülen movement across Turkey as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the movement.

Turkish police detained at least 32 people on Friday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Based in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, the police operations were conducted in 27 provinces, and 22 people were detained over allegation that they are members of the “military unit” of the movement.

During the Karaman leg of the operation, 5 women were detained for allegedly aiding the Gülen movement. Police have detained Ayşe C., Ayşe A., Emine M., Filiz U., and Kübra S. in Karaman province on Friday.

Another woman, Pınar K., was also detained by Turkish police in the southern Antalya province on the same day. Separately, 4 people were detained by police on Friday in Antalya province as part of the probe targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, the number of the detainees, mostly on-duty military officers, has increased to 62 on Friday following the detention warrants issued by Konya Chief Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday for 70 people in 27 different provinces across Turkey.

Also in Manisa province, 12 people were detained by police on Friday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement following the detention warrants issued by Kula and Manisa Prosecutor’s Offices. It was reported that some of the detainees, mostly teachers, were accused of using 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.

Moreover, two women, identified as H.T. and S.S., were detained when they went through security check before visiting their imprisoned husbands at a prison in Turkey’s Edirne province.

Doğan news agency (DHA) reported on Friday that H.T. was detained on charges of membership to the Gülen movement, the same charge her husband was earlier put behind bars for at the Edirne prison. DHA said the prison management inquired about H.T. at the government’s judiciary informatics system UYAP before letting her to visit her husband. When a detention warrant issued by an Ankara prosecutor showed up at the system, H.T. was detained as well.

Another woman, identified only with initials S.S. was also detained on Thursday when she attempted to visit her imprisoned husband. DHA has reported that S.S. was earlier implicated in a Çanakkale-based investigation into the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Also on Friday, a High Criminal Court in İstanbul has convicted and sentenced 7 military officers to long prison terms over their alleged involvement into a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Five out of the 7 convicts were given aggravated life sentences for “violating the constitution” plus 12 years for “deprivation of liberty.” The suspects had been convicted for holding a rear admiral of the Turkish Naval Academy hostage during the July 15, 2016 coup bid.

Separately, a couple in southern Adana province were sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in jail over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Also a High Criminal Court in southern Gaziantep province has convicted and sentenced to 15 years a woman who was allegedly collecting financial aid and organizing meetings on the behalf of the Gülen movement.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Friday said 48,305 people were jailed in 2017 alone as part of investigations into the faith-based Gülen movement, the Karar daily reported.

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 had 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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