Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 23 Hacettepe University academics, staff members

Detention warrants have been issued for 23 academics and other staff members of Hacettepe University in Ankara as part of an investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement launched by the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.

According to the report, police has detained 7 of 23 suspects in operations in 7 provinces.

İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday issued detention warrants for 171 academics and other staff members of Fatih University, which was seized and closed by the government last year, as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of orchestrating the failed coup, a claim the movement denies.

Following the dismissal of 105 academics by means of new state of emergency decree issued on Dec. 24 , the number of academics fired by decree-laws issued by the ruling AKP government has reached 5,822, bianet reported on Monday. According to the report a total of 1,258 administrative staff members have been dismissed by government decree, while 141 academics have been allowed to return their posts since Sept. 1, 2016.

Meanwhile, in an Ordu-based investigation 14 people, including on-duty military officers, were detained on Thursday in 7 provinces over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Also in a Gaziantep-based investigation 7 people were detained in Gaziantep, İstanbul and İzmir provinces over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock. The detentions came following the detention warrants were issued for 8 people over 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.

In the eastern province of Van, 14 people were detained on Thursday by police over their alleged Gülen links.

Moreover, 18 out of 53 military officers who were detained in 34 province across Turkey on December 13, 2017 in a Konya-based investigation, were arrested by a local court and sent to prison on Thursday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The same court has also ruled to release 35 military officers with condition of international travel ban and judicial probe. Konya Chief Prosecutor’s Office had issued detention warrants for 70 military officers on Dec. 13 and 53 of them were detained by the police.

An Eskişehir court has also arrested 6 of 10 people who were detained in three provinces in December 21, 2017 over their alleged use of ByLock on Thursday.

Also, 3 former military officers were sentenced by the 2nd High Criminal Court in Edirne province to life prisons on Thursday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Brig. Gen. Hidayet Arı, Lt. Col. Ramazan Altun and Maj. Ekrem Tekinaslan were previously dismissed from the military. They were among 22 people who were sentenced in separate cases at the same court. The officers were sentenced alongside 7 civilians who received 7-year prison terms over their alleged links to the movement.

Eight former health service staff were also sentenced to six years by a court in Kırşehir and Kahramanmaraş provinces. The court has also sentenced 3 people to 6 years, 3 months prison sentences. The Kahramanmaras defendants had been found to have had accounts at the Bank Asya, which was seized and later closed down by Turkish government over its affiliation with the Gülen movement.

In the southern province of Adana, the 2nd High Criminal Court sentenced a defendant to 6 years, 3 months over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Furthermore, a total of 27 people were convicted and sentenced to prison on Wednesday in southern and southeastern provinces of Turkey over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

In the southeastern province of Adıyaman, the 2nd High Criminal court gave separate jail terms of 9 and 12 years to 2 lawyers.

In Adana province, a former police chief was sentenced to 9 years in jail, while seven people in a separate hearing were handed jail terms ranging from 3 to 9 years over their alleged links to the movement.

A total of 15 people were given sentences ranging from over 1 to 10 years in courts in the southern provinces of Antalya and Kahramanmaraş, while in Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep provinces, two dismissed military officers were given prison terms ranging from over 6 years to 9.

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.

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