Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 333 military officers over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has issued detention warrants for 360 people and decided to confiscate their assets over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Wednesday as part of its massive post coup witch hunt targeting the movement.

İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 360 people on Wednesday and 172 of them were detained in 49 provinces across Turkey. It was reported that 333 of people who have been wanted are military officers including 117 of them who were dismissed previously by the government decrees under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Nineteen people were detained later Wednesday in the western provinces of Muğla and Izmir over the alleged links to Gülen movement. In separate operations against the alleged members of the movement, 4 people were detained in the northwestern province of Tekirdag; 4 people, including a doctor, in Kırıkkale province; and 7 people in Kutahya province, including 3 women. In Balıkesir province, a former naval captain was detained over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, police have detained 6 people in Ankara over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock on Wednesday. It was reported that 4 out 6 detainees are former personnel of Turkish Undersecratary of Treasury.

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 Wednesday, gendarme teams have detained 4 people, including a dismissed teacher, in Edirne’s Tayakadın village over their alleged links to the Gülen movement as they were allegedly trying to flee from Turkey to Greece.

On the other hand, a court in İstanbul released former football player Zafer Biryol under judicial control on Tuesday. Biryol, who used to play for Turkish clubs Konyaspor and Fenerbahce, was detained on Nov. 17 on orders of the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office over his alleged links to the Gülen movement. He was also accused of using ByLock.

An İstanbul court has also handed life sentences to 28 military officers for attempting to seize İstanbul’s Sabiha Gökcen Airport during last year’s controversial coup attempt and they were claimed to be alleged members of the Gülen movement. The decision came on the 14th trial at İstanbul’s 23rd High Criminal Court in the Silivri district of the city, where 8 of the suspects were handed aggravated life sentences. The suspects, who were jailed pending trial, were accused of attempting to “overthrow the constitutional order by using force”.

Separately, in the Black Sea province of Samsun, a former police officer and an ex-prosecutor were sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in prison for “being member of a terrorist organization” by the 3rd High Criminal Court.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempton July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s 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 civil servants since July 15, 2016. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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