Turkish gov’t detains more than 125 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government detained more than 125 people across Turkey on Tuesday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

In northern Kastamonu province, 20 people, including active duty military officers and former cadets, were detained on Tuesday over alleged links to the movement.  The operation was also conducted in the provinces of Samsun, Gaziantep, Yalova, İstanbul and Ankara as part of an investigation launched by the Kastamonu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

In Çanakkale, a northwestern province, 18 gendarmerie personnel were detained on Tuesday following the issuance of detention warrants for 25 people by the city’s chief public prosecutor’s office. Separately, a teacher was detained with a fake ID in the Aegean city of İzmir on Tuesday after a detention warrant was issued by the prosecutor’s office in central Kayseri province due to his former job at a closed-down private school affiliated with the Gülen movement.

During a Mersin-based operation, which was also carried out in 10 other provinces, 17 people were detained on Tuesday, while in eastern Ağrı province, 37 people were detained during an operation conducted in 16 provinces. Detention warrants were issued for 44 people for alleged links to the Gülen movement.

In central Aksaray province, the chief public prosecutor’s office issued detention warrants for four people on Tuesday over suspected links to the movement. Three of them were detained by police. Also on Tuesday, in northwestern Tekirdag province, two people were  detained on the same accusations.

A total of 25 military officers were also detained on Tuesday in an Elazığ-based operation, which was carried out in 21 provinces across Turkey.

The Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Monday that 568 people were detained during the week of March 19-26 due to alleged links to the Gülen movement. Turkish police detained a total of 4,725 people for alleged links to the movement in the first two months of 2018.

Meanwhile, two more companies have been seized as part of an investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement. A panel of trustees was appointed to İkizler Kuyumculuk, a jewelry store chain in Tekirdağ province, as well as another company in İstanbul as part of a seizure order for the assets of two businessmen, identified only as K.Ö. and K.G.

Also, detention warrants were issued for nine businessmen including K.Ö. and K.G. who are accused of having provided financial support to the educational and charity activities of the Gülen movement. Six of the people have been detained, while K.Ö. is reported to be abroad.

The Turkish government has seized more than 1,100 companies with a value of more than $12 billion in assets and then transferred them to the state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) since the controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The companies were mostly targeted as part of the government crackdown on 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 more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on March 15, 2018 that at least 402,000 people have been the subject of legal proceedings initiated by the Turkish government over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “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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