Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 119 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Eskişehir and Erzincan chief public prosecutor’s offices on Wednesday issued detention warrants for over 95 people as part of an investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement, according to Turkish media.

The reports said 92 of the 95 being sought have been detained during police operations across Turkey.

In a Sinop-based investigation nine people were detained by police on Wednesday in Sinop, Samsun, Tokat and Yozgat provinces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, in a Kayseri-based investigation eight people were detained by police on Wednesday during police raids in 13 provinces following the issuance of detention warrants by the Kayseri Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 15 people over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among 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 from their jobs or arrested for using ByLock since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The Aksaray, İzmir and Bursa chief public prosecutor’s offices on Tuesday issued detention warrants for 115 people, including police officers and teachers, over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Monday that 646 people have been detained in the past week due to alleged links to the Gülen movement. Turkish police detained a total of 2,426 people over alleged links to the movement in the first month of 2018.

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.

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, 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. 12, 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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