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49 arrested, 5 detained in gov’t witch hunt against Gülen movement across Turkey

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Forty-nine people were arrested and 5 more were detained as part of government-led operations targeting Gülen movement — a grassroots initiative comprising people inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen – across Turkey on Thursday and Friday.

Twenty-two people were arrested as part of an investigation carried out in Ankara by a local penal court of peace. The arrests were carried out on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “fraud.”

Anadolu 5th Penal Court of Peace arrested 20 more people as part of an İstanbul-based operation also conducted in Konya and Kırklareli provinces. Arrests were carried out on charges that include “membership in a terrorist organization” and “provide financial support to a terrorist organization.” Six people who were detained as part of same operation were released by court, with three of them being placed under judicial supervision.

Two people, one of them being a former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) provincial head, were arrested in Siirt as part of an investigation launched by Siirt Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Two out of 8 people, who had been detained in Denizli police officers from Anti Smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau of the province’s police department, were arrested by a local court on Friday.

As part of a similar investigation carried out in Elazığ province, two more people were arrested, while 5 people were released and placed under judicial supervision.

A police officer was also arrested as part of a Van-based operation also carried out in two other provinces, while 3 people were released and placed under judicial supervision.

Five people were detained by police officers from the Anti Smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau of Çorum Police Department on Thursday, after they raided 17 addresses as part of a similar operation in Çorum.

The arrests and detentions were carried out on suspicions that include membership in 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.

Since a corruption investigation 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, which is also known as the Hizmet movement. The graft probe implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, members of his family and senior AK Party figures.

Erdoğan accused the Gülen movement of plotting to overthrow his government and said that 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 in the course of the corruption 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.

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