Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 34 military officers and more over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government on Tuesday issued detention warrants for 25 military officers and detained eight others as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued warrants for 25 active-duty, dismissed and retired military officers on Tuesday, based on which police conducted simultaneous operations in nine provinces, including Ankara.

Meanwhile, one active-duty officer and 8 noncommissioned officers were detained during police operations in five provinces across Turkey in a Kırşehir-based investigation targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement. A former lieutenant colonel was also detained in the southern Muğla province over the same accusation.

Also on Monday, in an operation based in İzmir province, police have detained 22 people in Tekirdag, Eskişehir, Balıkesir, and Kocaeli provinces over alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was reported that 13 detainees have allegedly used mobile phone messaging application ByLock.

Moreover, in an Adyaman-based probe, police have detained 15 former police officers, while another 5 people were detained in the central province of Konya.

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 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, 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, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 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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