Justice minister says 36,000 arrested over Gülen links so far

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Bekir Bozdağ

Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has announced that a total of 36,000 people have been arrested so far in ongoing operations targeting alleged members of the faith-based Gülen movement.

Speaking to the Anadolu news agency, Bozdağ provided figures related to an ongoing crackdown on alleged members of the Gülen movement, which intensified in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15. The Turkish government accuses the movement of masterminding the coup attempt while the movement strongly denies any involvement.

Bozdağ said arrest warrants have been issued also for 4,115 people from various professions including 213 police officers and 92 military officers. He said detention warrants have also been issued for 1,222 people and that legal procedures concerning these individuals are still in progress.

The minister also said the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) has expelled 3,456 judges and prosecutors over Gülen links since the coup attempt.

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 government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Despite Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose views inspired the movement, and the movement having denied the accusation, 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.

About 120,000 people have been purged from state bodies, in excess of 80,000 detained and over 36,000 have been arrested since the coup attempt. Arrestees include journalists, judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, academics, governors and even a comedian. Critics argue that lists of Gülen sympathizers were drawn up prior to the coup attempt.

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