Turkish gov’t detains some 80 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government on Wednesday detained some 80 people across Turkey as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

In the western province of Bilecik, police detained 12 teachers on Wednesday in a probe launched by Bilecik prosecutors over alleged links to the movement.

Also on Wednesday, the Hakkari Governor’s Office said in a statement that Turkish security forces had launched operations nine provinces to detain a number of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement. The suspects are accused of allegedly using the ByLock mobile phone messaging application.

In an Adana-based probe, police detained 27 people at 40 locations in 21 provinces on Wednesday over suspected links to the Gülen movement. Most of the detainees are reportedly active duty military officers and noncommissioned officers.

In the Black Sea province of Gümüşhane, police took 15 people into custody, including 12 active duty military officers due to alleged links to the movement.

Police detained 14 people as part of a Niğde-based probe in Niğde, İstanbul and the capital Ankara on Wednesday over their alleged links to the movement, while in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir, police detained two people over the same allegations.

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 autocratic 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. On December 13, 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, 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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