Prominent businessman among seven arrested in witch-hunt operation

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Renowned businessman Halit Dumankaya, an executive board member of Dumankaya Holding, has been arrested along with six others as part of an operation targeting the faith-based Gülen movement.

Out of the 46 people who were referred to court for arrest on Thursday, Dumankaya and six others were arrested on Friday while 39 others were released. Two of the detainees were released on probation.

The suspects who were released include other Dumankaya executives, Dumankaya Holding chairman Uğur Dumankaya and the holding’ s executive board members Semih Serhat Dumankaya and Ayla Dumankaya Pirinççi.

Media reports said on Monday that businessmen as well as employees of Islamic lender Bank Asya including a woman who is in the seventh month of her pregnancy, were among the 107 people detained as part of witch-hunt operations targeting the Gülen movement.

The investigation is overseen by the İstanbul Anatolia Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The operation reportedly targets 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.

“Parallel state” 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.

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