Turkish gov’t detains dozens of police and military officers over alleged links to Gülen movement

Arrested officer

Turkish government has issued detention warrants for at least 65 military officers and police officers; and detained at least 35 police officers and military officers on Friday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office in Ankara on Friday issued detention warrants for 40 former police officers over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The warrants were issued as part of an investigation into a 2011 exam for applicant police officers to become chiefs. The suspects are accused of allegedly having obtained and distributed test questions beforehand. During operations conducted across Turkey’s 27 provinces, 21 former police officers were detained.

Meanwhile, in a Bolu-based investigation, 14, military officers, 12 of them are on-duty, were detained during operations in 10 provinces across Turkey and northern Cyprus on Friday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The detentions came following the warrants issued by Bolu Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 15 people, including 13 military officers who are personnel of the Bolu 2nd Commando Brigade, a gendermarie officer, and two teachers. 14 military officers were detained in Ankara, Eskişehir, Siirt, Şanlıurfa, Hakkari, Çankırı, Isparta, İstanbul, Kocaeli provinces and northern Cyprus.

Also on Friday, arrest warrants were issued for 5 former police officers over alleged links to the Gülen movement. İstanbul’s 13th High Criminal Court has ordered the warrants for Ahmet Davulcu, former deputy head of the Organized Crime Division, and former inspectors Muhammed Said Varlioğlu, Muhammed Alperen Özkan, Ahmet Kahraman and Kamil Çetiner. The arrest warrants came when the court announced its interim decision on a case in which 44 former police officers face charges of membership to the 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 Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip 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.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “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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