Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for at least 85 people over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish government has issued detention warrants for at least 87 people on Tuesday as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office in İstanbul has issued detention warrants for 60 people who were accused of providing education consultancy to the alleged members of the Gülen movement and allegedly using mobile phone messaging application ByLock. İstanbul Police Department’s Counter Terrorism Unit launched a simultaneous operations in 28 provinces across Turkey to detain these people.

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.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office in Ankara has also issued detention warrants for 27 former employees of the Youth and Sports Ministry on Tuesday as part of the witch hunt targeting the Gülen movement’s alleged followers. It was reported that, so far, police in Ankara have detained 8 people while the search for more people remains ongoing.

In a separate operation in central Konya province, police detained 15 women for their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Police operation to detain 3 more suspects connected with the movement, launched by the Konya Chief Prosecutor’s Office, continues.

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 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, 2018. “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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