WITCH HUNT — Presidency, prime ministry joining forces for anti-Gülen fight

Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric who has been living in the United States in a self-imposed exile since 1999, has become the arch-enemy of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since 2013

A special unit established at the presidency to monitor and contribute to an ongoing crackdown on the faith-based Gülen movement will from now on work together with another unit founded for the same purpose at the prime ministry, Hürriyet daily reported on Sunday.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been carrying out a relentless war against the Gülen movement for the past three years. The war on the movement has reached new heights in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Recep Tayyip 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.

Over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of Feb. 1, 89,775 people were being held without charge, with an additional 43,885 in pre-trial detention due to their alleged links to the movement.

Hürriyet said the fight against the Gülen movement was being monitored by the special unit at the presidency which consisted of President Erdoğan’s advisers. This unit, according to the daily, was working to find out the alleged Gülen followers in the public sector and was sharing the information they obtained with the judicial authorities. This team was also working on investigation dossiers of alleged Gülen followers and helping to expand the investigations.

The daily said a similar work against alleged Gülen followers was being conducted by also another team at the prime ministry and now a decision has been made to merge these two teams in a bid to reveal the remaining Gülen followers in the public sector. (turkishminute.com)

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