Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 43 military officers over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has detained 19 military officers on Sunday morning following the detention warrants issued by İstanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 43 military officers over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock.

It was reported that there are military officers who are on their active duties and those who are retired and those who were dismissed from their duties by the government decrees under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 among the detainees. Some of the military officers were reportedly detained in Ankara beside of those who were detained in İstanbul.

Meanwhile, a court case was opened against Turkey’s former Ghana Ambassador Şentürk Uzun, who was arrested on July 31, 2017, with a demand of 15 years of prison sentence over his alleged membership to the Gülen movement. In an indictment accepted by a Turkish court, it was claimed that the alleged links of YÖNETDER, an association chaired by Ambassador Uzun, to the Gülen movement was showed as an evidence for his alleged crime.

Also his membership to some civil society organizations, which were supportive to Turkey’s accession process to European Union (EU), has been showed as other crime evidence. Beside of his membership to Uluslararası Sivil Toplumu Destekleme ve Geliştirme Derneği (The International Association of Supporting and Developing Civil Society) and Vizesiz Avrupa Derneği (The Association of Europe Without Visa), Uzun was also charged over his participation into TUSKON meetings. Business organization TUSKON was closed by Turkish government following the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 over its affiliation to the Gülen movement. It was also claimed that Uzun used to use ByLock.

On Saturday, 5 out of 13 people who were detained by police over their alleged use of ByLock were also arrested by a local court in Çorum province. The court has released other 8 people with judicial probation.

A local court in Afyonkarahisar province has also decided on Saturday to arrest 9 out of 20 people who were detained by police in September 21, 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. It was reported that the court released 11 people with judicial probation.

Also an İstanbul court has arrested 11 out of 16 people who were detained over their alleged use of ByLock on Saturday awn sent them to jail. The court has released 5 people with judicial probation.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among followers of the faith-based Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and housemakers, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling 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’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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