Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 120, detains at least 90 over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has issued detention warrants for 120 military officers, detained more than 90 people as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Konya Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants on Thursday for 120 military officers over their alleged links to the Gülen movement and police have detained 34 of them in operations conducted in 43 provinces across Turkey.

It was claimed that 58 out of 120 military officers were alleged user of mobile phone messaging application 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.

Also on Thursday, simultaneous operations were conducted at 23 locations in Malatya, Ankara, Kayseri and Gaziantep provinces. At least 15 people of different professions were detained over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

As part of a separate probe into the movement by the Tokat Chief Prosecutor’s Office, 11 on-duty soldiers were detained in the Ankara, Batman, Eskişehir, Kayseri, Kırklareli, Kilis, Konya and Sırnak provinces on Thursday. The detainees were brought to Tokat. It was reported that search for another on-duty soldier is ongoing.

Furthermore, 20 people were detained by police over their alleged use of ByLock application. The search for another five people is reportedly in progress.

Meanwhile, 39 people including former teachers and an academic were convicted and sentenced to jail on Thursday for being alleged members of the Gülen movement. A high criminal court in the Black Sea province of Ordu handed down jail terms to 34 people including former teachers, an academic and businessmen ranging from 2 to 8 years.

Also in the central Sivas province, Kevser Caran, the wife of a former police officer, was given 6 years and 3 months in prison. In the Black Sea Kastamonu province, a high criminal court sentenced 3 teachers to jail terms ranging from 2 to 12 years in prison. In the western İzmir province, a former member of the administrative staff of Gediz University, Hakan Mustafa, received a 10-year sentence over alleged links to the Gülen 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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