Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 74 military officers, 22 civilians over alleged Gülen links

Arrested officer

The Turkish government issued detention warrants for 74 military officers and 22 civilians on Tuesday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported that the İstanbul and Ankara chief public prosecutor’s offices on Tuesday issued detention warrants for a total of 55 active duty and 19 former military members as part of an investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement.

According to the report, the prosecutor’s offices are also seeking 22 people who are claimed to serve as links between the movement and the officers.

On Monday, police detained at least 23 people, including 18 active duty soldiers, over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. In a Van-based investigation, police conducted operations in Afyonkarahisar, Trabzon, Mardin, İstanbul, Giresun, Amasya, Burdur, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş, Karabük, Konya, Isparta and İzmir provinces to apprehend the active duty soldiers.

Meanwhile, in another operation, five people were arrested for allegedly using the ByLock mobile phone messaging application. Police also carried out raids targeting alleged members of the movement in a Karabük-based operation in İstanbul, Kocaeli, Gaziantep, Aydın and Yozgat provinces.

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 allegedly using ByLock since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

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 about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. 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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