Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 46 military officers over alleged Gülen links

The Turkish government issued detention warrants for 46 military officers in 17 provinces across Turkey on Thursday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to a report by online news outlet TR724, as part of investigations launched by prosecutors in Adana and İzmir provinces, detention warrants were issued for 46 military officers on Thursday.

In an Adana-based probe, 22 serving military officers, including lieutenant colonels, colonels, majors, captains and non-commissioned officers, were detained in 13 provinces on Thursday following the issuance of warrants for 30 military officers over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

In an İzmir-based investigation, detention warrants were issued for 19 people, including 16 active duty military officers, on Thursday in İzmir, Van, Ankara and Çanakkale provinces over alleged links to the Gülen movement. Police have reportedly detained 12 of them so far. It was also reported that some of the suspects were alleged users of the ByLock mobile phone messaging application.

Turkish authorities believe ByLock is a communication tool among alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, military officers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a coup attempt in July 2016.

Separately, in the central province of Tokat, 14 police officers who were dismissed from their duties by the Turkish government under an ongoing state of emergency and one teacher were detained by police on Thursday over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Also on Wednesday, nine tax inspectors were detained as part of an investigation into Gülen movement supporters in the southern province of Hatay. Hatay police carried out operations at several locations and apprehended the nine suspects, some of whom were earlier dismissed from their jobs over their alleged links to the movement.

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 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. 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.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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