Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for at least 138 people over alleged Gülen links

The Turkish government issued detention warrants for at least 138 people including dozens of military personnel and 17 teachers on Thursday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The Batman Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday issued detention warrants for 57 active duty military members as part of an investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Turkish authorities on Wednesday had ordered the detention of 192 military personnel in operations targeting suspected supporters of the movement.

Detention warrants were also issued on Thursday for 17 teachers as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement, Anadolu reported. According to the report, as part of an Ankara probe police conducted operations in seven provinces and detained five of 17 teachers who were former staff members of schools closed down by a state of emergency decree following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Some of the teachers were accused of using a smart phone messaging application known as ByLock and having account in Bank Asya, which was seized in 2015 and closed down by the Turkish government following the coup attempt.

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.

In another operation based in the Aegean province of Balıkesir, police detained 10 military personnel over alleged links to the movement. Separately, the chief public prosecutor’s office issued arrest warrants for 13 people, most of whom were active duty soldiers, in the Black Sea province of Tokat as part of an investigation into the movement.

Later on Thursday, a police team combatting against financial crimes detained 17 people in the Aegean province of İzmir over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The suspects had been accused of using ByLock and working for schools that were shut down by a statutory decree over their alleged affiliation with the movement.

Separately, in a Manisa-based operation, another Aegean province in western Turkey, police detained 14 people, including serving soldiers, in simultaneous raids across 14 provinces.

Police also detained 48 suspects, among them also soldiers on active duty, in an Aydın-based operation.

One of the suspects was detained in İzmir while preparing to illegally flee to Greece.

In an eastern Malatya-based operation, nine people were detained, including former teachers, academics and soldiers dismissed from their jobs, while police apprehended 22 others in an eastern Van based-operation across 14 provinces. Another 13 active duty soldiers were detained during an operation based out of central Aksaray province.

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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