Turkish police detain prosecutor Sarıkaya over alleged links to Gülen movement

Turkish police on Friday detained Ferhat Sarıkaya, a prosecutor who was expelled by Turkey’s Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) on Thursday over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued an arrest warrant for Sarıkaya, after which he was detained at his home in the Çankaya district of Ankara.

Sarıkaya was suspended in 2006 for indicting former army chief Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt as part of an investigation into a bookstore bombing in Hakkari’s Şemdinli district in 2005. He was reinstated in 2011.

The HSK expelled the former prosecutor on Thursday together with two judges, Köksal Çelik and Çetin Sönmez, who released Adil Öksüz, the prime suspect in a controversial coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, following his detention hours after the abortive putsch.

Turkey’s judiciary is being criticized for acting on orders from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and not basing their rulings on the law. Judges in Turkey who make decisions that anger Erdoğan are either replaced or jailed. Turkey has fallen to 101st position out of 113 countries in the World Justice Project’s (WJP) 2017-18 Rule of Law Index, a comprehensive measure of the rule of law.

The Turkish government has arrested a total of 2,431 judges and prosecutors and dismissed 4,424 others since a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Constitutional Court general assembly ruling revealed on early August 2017.

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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