Turkish gov’t dismisses, detains and arrests dozens over alleged links to Gülen movement

File photo.

Dozens of people were arrested, detained or dismissed from their duties on Friday across Turkey as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry suspended six public officials, including a deputy governor and district governors, from their duties on Friday as part of ongoing investigations against the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Among those suspended were the deputy governor of the eastern province of Van, the district governors of Alurca in the Black Sea province of Giresun, Ağın in the eastern province of Elazığ, Göynücek in the Black Sea province of Amasya and Samsat in the southeastern province of Adıyaman. A district governor candidate from the northern province of Kastamonu was also suspended.

Meanwhile, an Ankara court has given life sentences to 25 people, including a former coast guard commander, over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Friday. The case charged a total of 28 suspects over incidents on the night of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt at a naval base in the Gölcük district of northwestern province of Kocaeli.

Ankara’s 17th High Criminal Court sentenced 25 suspects, including ex-Coast Guard Commander Hakan Üstem, to life sentences for violating the constitution. The court also ordered the release of three privates.

Following the detention warrants issued by İzmir Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 29 people over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock, İzmir police have detained all of them on Friday.

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, it was reported that the number of detained military officers, who are on their active duties, has increased to 52 on Friday in a probe, carried out by Konya Chief Prosecutor’s Office, targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Following the detention warrants issued by the prosecutor’s office for 70 military officers, police have conducted operations in 31 provinces of Turkey. The prosecutor’s office has issued arrest warrants for 46 military officers, 20 non-commissioned officers, 4 sergeants over their alleged links to the movement.

Also on Friday, 30 people, among them 13 children, who were trying to escape from Turkey to Kos, a Greek island, in Bodrum district of Muğla province, were detained by Turkish coast guards on Friday. It was reported that the 17 detainees are former personnel of Turkish military, police department, National Education Ministry and the Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication (TİB, who were previously dismissed by government decrees under the rule of law declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

It is also claimed that there are outstanding detentions warrant about those 17 detainees over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Many people tried to escape Turkey via illegal ways as Turkish government cancelled their passports like thousands of others.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempton July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s 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 civil servants since July 15, 2016. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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