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Turkey arrests 27 more businessmen in coup investigation

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A total of 27 businessmen were arrested on Thursday as part of an ongoing investigation into a failed coup attempt in July that the government accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of masterminding.

Twenty-seven businessmen, including Faruk Güllü, one of the brothers who runs separate Güllüoğlu Baklava chains, and Aydınlı Group Chairman Ömer Faruk Kavurmacı, who operates retail chains, were arrested by an Istanbul court on charges of membership in the Gülen movement, which is labeled as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government despite the absence of any court ruling to that effect.

Kavurmacı is the son-in-law of Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas, who is from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Another 28 suspects were released on probation while the interrogation of another 10 suspects was continuing.

Police detained a total of 80 suspects on Aug. 18 as part of an investigation by the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office into the Gülen movement.

Sixty-five of the suspects were referred to court for arrest on charges of membership in a terrorist organization and attempting to destroy the constitutional order by use of force and violence. The other 15, meanwhile, were referred to court for release on probation.

The chief prosecutor in Istanbul had also issued orders for the confiscation of the properties of 187 people, including Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) Chairman Rızanur Meral, Kavurmacı and the Güllü brothers, according to a decree issued under a current state of emergency.

Some suspects, including Meral, are still being sought as fugitives.

On Wednesday the assets of 41 business leaders were seized, including Fikret İnan, the owner of construction firm Fi Yapı; the former CEO of İhlas Holding, Cahit Paksoy; and Fatih Aktaş, chairman of Akfa Holding.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the AKP government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Despite Gülen and the movement having denied the accusation and calling for an international investigation, Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

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