Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 56 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government issued detention warrants for at least 56 people, mostly military officers on active duty, on Tuesday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 27 people on Tuesday for allegedly using the ByLock mobile phone messaging application. Four of them have reportedly been detained by police.

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, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Another detention warrant was also issued by the same prosecutor’s office for six employees of the Army Aviation Command over alleged links to the movement.

In the northwestern province of Çanakkale, prosecutors issued detention warrants on Tuesday for 26 military officers including two colonels, one lieutenant colonel, one major, six captains, 13 first lieutenants and three lieutenants for their alleged links to the movement. Three of the military officers were previously dismissed by government decree under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, while 23 of them are active duty military officers.

Meanwhile, Turkish security forces in northern Tokat province captured 10 people, including active duty soldiers over alleged links to the Gülen movement on Tuesday under another investigation run by the Tokat Chief Public Prosecutor’s office. The office had demanded the detention of 13 people, including 12 military officers and one civilian. Police are searching for the remaining three people.

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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