Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 127 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government on Wednesday issued detention warrants for 127 people, mostly active duty military officers, across Turkey as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The Konya Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 70 people, including 43 serving military officers, in 23 provinces on Wednesday over alleged links to the movement.

On the same day in an İzmir-based investigation the chief public prosecutor’s office issued detention warrants for 18 people, including 16 active duty military officers, in nine provinces over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Also on Wednesday, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 39 people, including 11 employees of the Ministry of Family and Social Policy who were dismissed by the government under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, over their alleged links to the movement.

Police have so far detained 13 of them, accused of using ByLock mobile phone messaging application, during simultaneous raids conducted in Ankara.

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, military officers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the coup attempt in July 2016.

Eight of 13 colonels who were referred to court by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office were arrested and sent to pretrial detention on Tuesday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The remaining five have reportedly applied to benefit from “active remorse” and were later released by the court under judicial supervision.

The prosecutor’s office had issued detention warrants for 72 military officers, including 25 on active duty, on May 14 over alleged links to the movement. Thirteen of them were arrested on May 18, and four were released under judicial supervision.

Also on Tuesday, six people were convicted of links to the movement, receiving prison sentences ranging between eight and nine years.

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 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. 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.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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