Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 85, detains dozens of military personnel over alleged links to Gülen movement

The chief public prosecutor’s office in central Kayseri province issued detention warrants for 85 military personnel on Tuesday as part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Among those being sought were 37 active duty military officers. Two others had previously been discharged from the armed forces and two retired, while six others were former military students. A Kayseri-led operation to detain the military members is reportedly underway in 18 provinces across Turkey.

In the western Manisa province, police detained up 13 people including active-duty military officers in simultaneous operations conducted across 12 provinces including the capital Ankara, İzmir, and Muğla provinces on Tuesday.

In the eastern Muş province, police detained 23 on-duty military officers of various ranks on Tuesday as part of a probe targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement. Also, in the northern Bartın province, 9 more military officers were detained.

Operations in six provinces centered on the southeastern Mardin province resulted in the arrest of 8 former police officers on Tuesday. In Ankara, a former eastern Erzurum province police chief was detained. He had been sacked from duty in 2015 for his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

In the northern Tokat province, two ex-teachers, who had been working in a private school shut down as part of post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the Gülen movement, were detained on Tuesday.

In the southeastern Şırnak province, police detained 28 people on Tuesday for allegedly embezzling and forgery of official documents as part of a probe targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

In the Aegean İzmir province, gendarmerie forces detained 16 people, including dismissed and active duty military officers, in simultaneous morning raids as part of an ongoing investigation into the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

A Turkish court on Tuesday sentenced seven former military officers to life in prison for their alleged actions during the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Former Brig. Gen. Bekir Kocak was given an aggravated life sentence by a high criminal court in the northwestern Kırklareli province. Six other army officials received life sentences for their alleged actions the night of July 15 at the 55th Infantry Brigade Command. They were all charged with attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.

Turkish courts have also sentenced to prison 20 people over their alleged links to the Gülen movement on Tuesday. A court in the northern province of Kastamonu sentenced a former teacher to over two years for his alleged links to the movement. Another former teacher in the eastern Malatya province received seven years and six months in prison for the same charges.

Additionally, an ex-police chief in the southern Hatay province was given nearly 17 years in prison for allegedly attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.

Several people across Turkey were also given jail terms for alleged membership to the movement.  A total of 16 others in the central provinces of Sivas and Kayseri, northern Rize and Kastamonu provinces, and southern Adana province were given jail terms ranging from six to eight years on Tuesday.

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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on March 15, 2018 that at least 402,000 people have been the subject of legal proceedings initiated by the Turkish government over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said 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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