Sixteen people, including one of the cousins of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, were detained in the western province of İzmir on Wednesday as part of an ongoing crackdown on the faith-based Gülen movement.
Gülen’s cousin Feride Gülen was detained in the Torbalı district of İzmir.
The detainees are accused of membership in“FETÖ,” a derogatory term coined by the Turkish government to refer to the movement, as well as supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as part of the investigation overseen by the İzmir Public Prosecutor’s Office.
In early November Gülen’s nephew Hüseyin Gülen and niece Büşra Gülen were also arrested in İzmir on charges of usinga smart phone application known as ByLock.
They are accused of using the smart phone application ByLock, which according to prosecutors is the top communication tool among members of the faith-based Gülen movement, accused by the government of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15. Critics, however, have blasted the government for detaining thousands simply for using a mobile application.
Tens of thousands of civil servants have either been dismissed or arrested for using the application. Critics say the use of a technological application is not a criminal activity nor is it evidence of membership in a terrorist organization.
In mid October one of the brothers of Fethullah Gülen, Kutbettin, was also arrested as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement.
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, inspired by Gülen. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt.