Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 72 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Ankara and Tokat chief public prosecutor’s offices on Friday have issued detention warrants for 72 people including 20 military officers over their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

According to the report police detained 36 of the 72 people during operations in 24 provinces. Some of the detentions came after Ankara prosecutors issued warrants for 52 suspects in 8 provinces, including the capital Ankara, as part of a probe into the alleged members of the movement. Among the suspects were some businessmen.

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, 2017. “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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