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16 including journalists, police officers re-arrested in Antalya due to Gülen links

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A high criminal court in the southern province of Antalya ruled for the re-arrest of 16 individuals including journalists and police officers due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement shortly after their release by another court last week.

The Antalya 2nd High Criminal Court last week ruled for the release of 20 police officers and eight journalists on judicial probation; however, the Antalya 3rd High Criminal Court has ruled for the re-arrest of 16 of them following objections to their release by prosecutors.

Zaman’s former local news representative in Antalya, Tuncer Çetinkaya, and Zaman reporter Serhat Şeftali are among the re-arrested journalists.

They had been in pre-trial detention since a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 which 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 the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 2, a total of 113,260 people have been detained as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt while 47,155 were put into pre-trial detention.

On Saturday Turkey attracted the attention of international journalism organizations after 21 journalists who had been in pre-trial detention for eight months and were to be released pending trial in İstanbul on Friday were arrested again early on Saturday without ever having been freed.

The number of journalists jailed in Turkey has reached 228, a new world record, as the massive crackdown on the free, independent and critical media by the authoritarian regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shows no sign of abating any time soon, the Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF), a Stockholm-based monitoring and rights advocacy group, reported on Saturday.

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