New interior minister says detentions to continue until every last Gülenist is gone

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Newly appointed Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told the press during a ceremony on Thursday that Turkey will continue its operations against members of the Gülen movement until every last member of it is gone.

When taking over the ministry portfolio from his predecessor, Efkan Ala, Soylu underlined that this duty (to eliminate members of the Gülen movement) was given to the Interior Ministry by the Turkish Republic as government policy and an order from its people.

Turkey will get rid of this trouble, calamity and dishonor. [Operations will continue] until every last member of FETÖ [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] is gone,” he said. The Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY) is a term used by the government-backed judiciary to frame sympathizers of the Gülen movement, a grassroots social initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, which conducts charitable activities around the world, including giving education, distributing humanitarian aid and providing drinking water especially in African countries.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government accuse Gülen of masterminding the failed coup attempt of July 15 which left more than 200 people – including civilians – dead. Despite the fact that Gülen and his followers have denied the accusations and demanded concrete evidence proving their involvement in the coup, tens of thousands of public servants, judges, prosecutors and journalists were detained by the Turkish police for allegedly having links to the Gülen movement.

After meeting with Erdoğan at the presidential palace, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım stated at a press conference on Wednesday that Soylu has been appointed as the new interior minister. Former Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu will replace Soylu, said Yıldırım. Ala’s decision paves the way for a minor reshuffling of the Cabinet.

Despite speculation that Ala might replace Hakan Fidan as head of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), CNN Türk Ankara Representative Hande Fırat said, “It is less likely that Ala will be appointed to another post now,” based on sources close to the presidential palace.

Soylu, in a speech after the failed coup on July 15, claimed that the US was responsible for the putsch. “The US is behind the coup attempt. A few journals published there [in the US] have been conducting [interviews] for several months. For many months we have been sending requests to the US concerning Gülen. The US must extradite him,” he said.

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