Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 112, detains 45 people over JWF links

Turkish government, under the rule of autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has issued detention warrants for 112 people over the links to the Journalists and Writers’ Foundation (JWF/GYV), which is defunct in Turkey, on Wednesday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

İstanbul-Anadolu Chief Prosecutor’s Office has ordered warrants against those who are executives of the JWF or who have relations with the foundation. The anti-terror police teams have started İstanbul-based operations to detain the JWF’s civil society activists and intellectuals in 17 provinces including İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir and Manisa provinces on Wednesday.

Mehmet Gündem

It was reported that 45 people, including journalists Mehmet Gündem, Nuh Gönültaş and Behram Kılıç, were rounded up early Wednesday while police were seeking the remaining 73 people including journalist Ekrem Dumanlı who is the now-closed Zaman daily’s former editor-in-chief.

According to the Gazete Duvar online news portal, Şule Çizmeci, a former reporter for now-closed Radikal daily, was also detained in İzmir’s Datça district on Wednesday. It was reported that she is expected to be brought to İstanbul for interrogation.

In a similar vein, the Doğan news agency reported that journalist Mehmet Gündem who had worked for several different media outlets including pro-government Milliyet, Yeni Şafak dailies, Zaman daily and the state-run TRT, has been detained as part of an investigation into the now-defunct (JWF/GYV).

Along with Gündem, Behram Kılıç, former Zaman daily sports correspondent and Nuh Gönültaş, a columnist for now-closed Bugün daily were detained on similar charges.

According to the reports among detainees, there are 35 people who allegedly used ByLock, 56 people who deposited money to now-closed private lender Bank Asya, 10 people whose name were cited in the main case targeting the Gülen movement. It has also been claimed that 46 of sought people are now in exile abroad.

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.

JWF, whose honorary president is the US-based Turkish-Muslim scholar Fetullah Gülen, was earlier closed-down as part of its links to the Gülen movement. Now based in New York, the Journalist and Writers Foundation (JWF) is a non-governmental organisation which  aims to promote peaceful coexistence through dialogue and understanding at global, regional and local levels.

Since its establishment in 1994, JWF has organized events promoting peace, tolerance and dialogue. There are five platforms that work under JWF umbrella: Abant Platform, Intercultural Dialogue Platform (IDP), Medialog Platform, Women’s Platform, and Dialogue Eurasia Platform (DAP).

Through its activities, JWF has brought together thousands of people from various backgrounds to discuss topics including but not limited to politics, religion, art, philosophy, and science in order to establish common ground and, ultimately, peace. JWF also occasionally holds award ceremonies to support inspirational individuals who contributed to peace and dialogue in their communities.

M. Serdar Kuzuloğlu

Also on Wednesday, a prominent technology journalist, M. Serdar Kuzuloğlu, tweeted that he was being detained as a part of an investigation into the Gülen movement. “I am being detained as part of the FETÖ investigation. I cannot believe,” Kuzuloğlu said in his tweet, which was later deleted, prompting rumors about the detention. Kuzuloğlu’s relatives later confirmed the reports of his detention. A news report from the website of which he is the editor-in-chief was shared on Kuzuloğlu’s account but it was later revealed that the tweet had been scheduled beforehand. After a brief detention Kuzuloğlu was released later on Wednesday. An İzmir prosecutor issued detention warrants for 31 individuals, including Kuzuloğlu, for their alleged links to the movement.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 256 journalists and media workers are in jails as of October 30, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 232 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 133 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey. Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

Turkish police has also detained 19 people on Tuesday during operations against the Kimse Yok mu charity organisation following Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants for 32 suspects in 15 provinces over the claims that they used to use mobile phone messaging application ByLock.

Meanwhile, Ankara-West Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 42 teachers who used to work for schools which were closed by government decree under the rule of emergency in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 over their affiliation to the Gülen movement, over their alleged use of ByLock. It was also reported that some of the suspects also deposited money into the Gülen movement affiliated private lender Bank Asya.

In Manisa province, 11 people were detained by police over their alleged use of ByLock on Wednesday  as 1 more person was detained by police in the province during a routine police control over his detention warrant over his alleged use of 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.

Bursa police have also detained 50 businessmen over their alleged financial support to the Gülen movement on Wednesday, according to a report by Doğan news agency.

Moreover, 10 people were detained in Turhal, Pazar and Zile districts of Tokat province on Wednesday following the detention warrants issued by Tokat Chief Prosecutor’s Office for them over their alleged use of ByLock. It was reported that detainees include private sector workers and university students.

Also in another Tokat-based investigation, 11 people were detained on Wednesday during gendarmerie operations in 15 provinces following the detention warrants issued by Tokat Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 22 people including 18 military officers on their active duties over their alleged links to Gülen movement.

On Tuesday, 42 out of 59 detainees, who were taken under custody as part of investigation targeting Kaynak Holding which was affiliated with the Gülen movement, were arrested by Anadolu Penal Court of Peace on Tuesday over their alleged use of ByLock and sent to prison. 61 people were detained following detention warrant for 110 people over their alleged links to the companies under the roof of Kaynak Holding.

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 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. 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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