Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 54 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 54 people on Saturday across Turkey for their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The detention warrants were issued as part of a probe into the Police Academy Entrance Exam in 2012, and police have launched operation in 33 provinces, according to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

Meanwhile, an Afghan citizen was detained in Bornova district of İzmir province on Saturday over his alleged links to the Gülen movement. Ahmed Fahim Omar was detained by police over his alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock.

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.

He was also accused of recruiting sympathisers at among the university students for the Gülen movement. It was reported that Omar encountered the Gülen. movement while at university, and stayed at a student dorm affiliated with the movement. Later he opened a restaurant.

On Friday, 17 judges and prosecutors were suspended over their alleged ties to the Gülen movement. In a statement to media, Mehmet Yılmaz, deputy head of the Board of Judges and Prosecutors’ (HSK), said that 17 judges and prosecutors were suspended over their alleged connections to the movement. The investigators will decide whether the suspended personnel should be completely dismissed from their jobs after they completed their investigations, said Yılmaz.

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 Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip 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.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “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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