Turkish gov’t detains dozens, issues detention warrants for 60 people over alleged Gülen links

Turkish government has issued detention warrants for 60 people on Thursday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the movement.

In an İstanbul-based investigation police have raided houses the people over their alleged use of mobile phone messaging application ByLock in Turkey’s 14 provinces. It was reported that 20 people were detained by the police.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency has reported on Thursday that 56 people were detained across Turkey over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. In northwestern Çanakkale province, 7 sergeants of the Air Forces Command were detained by police over their alleged use of ByLock.

In another northwestern Kocaeli-based operation, 23 military personnel, who are on their active duties, were arrested in 13 different provinces of Turkey, including İstanbul, Ankara, Kocaeli, İzmir, Muğla, Mersin, Van, Şırnak, Aydın, Adana, Zonguldak, Ordu and Balıkesir. It was reported that there are 6 lithuenant and 18 non-commissioned officers among the detainees. Earlier, Kocaeli Chief Prosecutor’s Office has issued detention warrants for 34 former and on-duty military officers.

Meanwhile, Adana 11th High Criminal Court has decided to give prison sentences to 40 out of 145 police officers who have been tried over their alleged links to the Gülen movement over their alleged use of ByLock, on Wednesday. It was reported that 67 of people who were tried by the court are already in prison for pre-trial detention.

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.

Also on Thursday, 2 people were given prison sentences in separate court hearings. A court in central Çorum province sentenced a businessman for up to 7 years in prison over his alleged links to the Gülen movement. In another hearing in southern Kahramanmaras province, a teacher was sentenced to 2 years and 1 month in prison with the same charge.

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 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 has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. 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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