Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 129 police officers, detains at least 120 people over alleged Gülen links

Turkish government has issued detention warrants on Thursday for 129 police officers who were dismissed by government decrees under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, as part of its post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Police have detained at least 80 former police officers during an operation in 21 provinces on Thursday to apprehend them following the prosecutors in the capital Ankara have issued the detention warrants. The alleged suspects include a first-class chief commissioner, 9 fourth-class police constable, 6 police supervisors, 4 chief inspectors, 11 police commissioners, 28 deputy police commissioners and 6 chief police officers, 64 police officers.

Pro-government media has reported that all the sought police officers were sacked from duty with a government decree over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock and their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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.

Turkish police have also detained 19 people, including three on-duty soldiers in western İzmir province over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Thursday. In another operation in northwestern Balıkesir province, a former police commissioner known by initials A.S. and 6 others were detained. Separately, police arrested 8 people, including 4 women in simultaneous raids conducted across southwestern Denizli province.

Another 7 people were detained by police in central Çankırı province over their alleged use of ByLock on Thursday. In Samsun, a northern Black Sea province, police have detained 3 teachers over their alleged links to the movement.

GÜLEN’S NEPHEW, NIECE CONVICTED OVER THEIR ALLEGED USE OF BYLOCK

Hüseyin Gülen

Meanwhile, a high criminal court in eastern Erzurum province sentenced a nephew of the US-based Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen to six years and three months in prison on Wednesday.

Hüseyin Gülen, who was detained four months after the military coup bid on July 15, 2016 was convicted on charges of allegedly using ByLock and maintaining his alleged ties to the Gülen movement.

Büşra Gülen

Also, the same court sentenced the niece of Fethullah Gülen to seven years and six months in prison. Büşra Gülen was also convicted by the court on charges of being an alleged member of an alleged “armed terrorist organisation.”

Also on Wednesday, a non-commissioned officer surrendered to police in western Aydın province over his confessed links to the Gülen movement. The officer, identified by the initials S.S., from the Germencik  gendarmerie command, surrendered to the provincial security directorate.

Police have raided a private high school in Bursa province and detained the owner, his wife as well as the school’s principal as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement. State-run Anadolu news agency (AA) reported on Thursday that detention warrants were issued for the three and their homes as well as the Mavi Deniz Anatolian High in Bursa’s Odunluk neighborhood which remained closed over alleged links to Gülen movement  for some time earlier was raided.

The owner, identified as I.D., his wife M.D., and the principal S.K. were taken into police custody. Police seized some documents and the hard drives of the computers at the school. AA reported the school is accused of receiving funds from some other schools that were closed down for good over Gülen movement links. Teachers and students at such schools were also transferred to Mavi Deniz school, AA noted citing the investigation.

Meanwhile, İstanbul prosecutors on Thursday demanded aggravated life imprisonment for 14 senior military officers for their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The indictment sought aggravated life sentences for 24 people including Fetullah Gülen. Among the other suspects were Brigadier Generals Fethi Alpay, Eyüp Gürler, Özkan Aydoğdu, Yüksel Durak, Staff Colonels Ahmet Gümüş, Mehmet Kapan, Muzaffer Düzenli, Müslüm Kaya, Nebi Gazneli, Ömer Faruk Özköse, Sadık Cebeci, Liutenant Colonels Şakir Çınar, Fatih Karakaya and Major Murat Yanık. They were all charged with attempting to overthrow the constitutional order by force.

Separately, the prosecutors demanded 88 times aggravated life sentences each for Alpay, Gürler, Aydoğdu, Düzenli and Yanık; 44 times aggravated life sentences for Kapan, three times aggravated life sentences each for Kaya and Gazneli; and 14 times aggravated life sentences for Cebeci on charges of premeditated murder and murdering children.

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 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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