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Police detain 67 in gov’t witch hunt targeting Gülen movement

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Sixty-seven people were detained as part of government-initiated operations targeting the Gülen movement, a grassroots initiative comprising people inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s teachings, across Turkey on Monday.

Police officers detained 45 people – including a Mersin police chief named Ali İhsan Kaya — as part of a Mersin-based operation carried out in 13 more provinces across the country.

The detentions in 14 provinces were carried out by police officers from the Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau and the Counterterrorism Units as part of an investigation launched by Mersin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Forty-five people were detained in Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Elazığ, Gaziantep, Hatay, İstanbul, Kahramanmaraş, Karaman, Kayseri, Mersin, Nevşehir, Osmaniye and Şanlıurfa provinces on suspicion of membership in a terrorist organization and providing financial support to a terrorist organization.

Detainees were sent to Mersin Police Department for questioning. Police officers are still looking for 42 people, including a Mersin police chief called Ali Çengelci, as part of the same investigation.

Thirteen people – including members of Small and Medium Business Development and Support Administration (KOSGEB) — were arrested as part of an operation ordered by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Police officers from Financial Crimes Unit of the Ankara Police Department are looking for two more people for whom detentions warrants were issued.

Detainees were sent to Ankara Police Department for questioning after undergoing medical check.

Police officers from the Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau of Kayseri Police Department also detained a Kayseri branch member of KOSGEB identified by the initials A.D. on Monday.

Eight more people — Veysel B, Hikmet A, Mustafa B, Adil K, Doğan K, Önder B, Ali Osman K. and Hasan G. — were detained in Aksaray on suspicion of being affiliated with the so-called “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY),” which is used by the government-backed judiciary to frame sympathizers of the Gülen movement.

“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, then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the Gülen movement of plotting to overthrow his government. He 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 that declares the movement as a terrorist group either.

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