Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for over 265 people due to alleged Gülen movement links

The Turkish government on Friday issued detention warrants for more than 265 people across Turkey, including 92 teachers, as part of a massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The Konya Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 84 people over alleged links to the Gülen movement. All of them were detained by police during simultaneous raids in 43 provinces on Friday.

The chief public prosecutor’s office in the capital of Ankara also issued detention warrants for 92 teachers in 12 Turkish provinces on Friday over  alleged links to the movement.

Separately, detention warrants were issued on Friday by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 57 people, 14 of whom have already been detained. The people being sought, who are from various walks of life, have allegedly used the ByLock mobile phone messaging application.

Turkish authorities believe that 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 using ByLock since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Earlier, 18 active duty military officers and a civilian were detained in operations across 14 provinces in a Balıkesir-based investigation targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement. The detentions came following the issuance of 23 detention warrants by the Balıkesir Public Prosecutor’s Office on Friday. Police also detained a schoolteacher in Balıkesir province.

Also on Friday, following the issuance of detention warrants by the Mersin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 10 people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, eight people were detained in police raids in five Turkish provinces.

Turkish police detained a total of 4,725 people over alleged links to the movement in the first two months of 2018.

Meanwhile, a total of 64 people were convicted and sentenced to jail on Friday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, according to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

The 2nd Criminal Court in central Nevşehir province handed jail terms to 10 people, ranging from 6 to 8 years. The 4th High Criminal Court in central Kayseri province handed down jail terms to 6 people ranging from 4 to 10 years.

Two people were convicted and sentenced to 6 years and 3 months in jail in Black Sea province of Rize, while a former teacher was sentenced to almost 9 years in northern Bartın province. In eastern Erzincan province, a high court sentenced a convicted person to 15 years in jail.

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 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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, 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, 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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