Turkish police detained yet another cousin of US-based Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen in Erzurum province on Friday as part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.
According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, Turkey’s notorious National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) learned that Hüseyin Avcı, the son of Fethullah Gülen’s aunt, was in Erzurum province and informed the police. Police detained Avcı on Friday and referred him to a local court, where he was arrested and put in pretrial detention.
Avcı was accused of being an executive of terror organisation based on allegations that he had shares in companies previously owned by businessmen allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement and subsequently seized by the government. Since a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, dozens of relatives of Fethullah Gülen have been imprisoned by the Turkish government due to guilt by association.
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 civil servants since July 15. 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.