Fourteen of the sixteen individuals including two lieutenants who were detained on Saturday in an Antalya-based operation targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, were arrested on Sunday.
Two lieutenants are among those who were sent to jail while two of the detainees were released pending trial.
Detentions were carried out by police officers from the Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau of the Police Department after simultaneous raids on a number of addresses in İstanbul, Gaziantep, Konya, Isparta, Ankara, İzmir, Kastamonu, Diyarbakır and Van on Saturday. The investigation is being overseen by Antalya Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The detainees spent Friday night at the Antalya Police Office. They were taken to Antalya Training and Research Hospital for a medical examination on Saturday morning. An Antalya court subsequently decided to arrest 14 of the detainees after their interrogation.
The 16 people were reportedly detained on charges of “making the propaganda of a terrorist organization,” and being a member of the so-called the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY),” which is used by the government-backed judiciary to frame sympathizers of the Gülen movement, a grassroots social initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
In a similar development on Sunday, 17 individuals were detained as part of a Yozgat-based operation that was conducted across eight provinces against the “parallel structure.”
The detainees include businessmen, police officers and public officials.
“Parallel state or structure” is a term coined by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in December 2013 to refer to people believed to be inspired by the ideas of Gülen, especially those within the state bureaucracy.
Since a corruption investigation that implicated figures close to the government, as well as government members themselves, came to public attention on Dec. 17, 2013, there have been many similar police operations carried out targeting shopkeepers, teachers, members of the judiciary, journalists and police officers who are accused of being affiliated with the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement. The graft probe implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, members of his family and senior Justice and Development Party (AK Party) figures.
Erdoğan accused the Gülen movement of plotting to overthrow his government and said sympathizers of the movement within the police department had fabricated the graft scandal. Since then, hundreds of police officers have been detained and some arrested for alleged illegal activity during the course of the investigation. Erdoğan said he would carry out a “witch hunt” against anyone with links to the movement.
The Gülen movement strongly rejects the allegations brought against it. There is not a court decision which declares the movement as a terrorist group either.
The first wave of detentions targeting the Gülen movement in Antalya was made on April 6 and a total of 24 people were detained. Seventeen of these people were arrested while seven of them were released on probation.