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12 arrested amid applause after testimony without lawyers

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A total of 12 philanthropists were arrested in the province of Tekirdağ amid applause from supporters, as part of the ongoing government crackdown on sympathizers of the Gülen movement, following scandalous reports that they were forced to testify without presence of any lawyers.

Organized Crime Units of the Çorlu District Police Department detained 20 people on Monday upon an order by a Çorlu prosecutor. The detainees gave their testimonies at a Çorlu police station, before they were referred to a court, which ruled for the arrest of 12 of them, while releasing the remaining eight pending trial.

Families and loved ones of those arrested applauded the suspects as they were put in a police vehicle, while some others were seen crying.

Since a corruption investigation erupted on Dec. 17, 2013 and led to the resignation of four Cabinet ministers, 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 Justice and Development Party (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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