Thirty lawyers were arrested on Wednesday in İstanbul as part of an investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement, Turkish media reports have said.
Last week detention warrants were issued by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 84 lawyers on the grounds that they use a smart phone application known as ByLock, considered by Turkish authorities to be the top communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Thirty-eight of the lawyers were detained, of whom 30 were arrested on Wednesday, while eight of them were released on judicial probation.
One of the lawyers under arrest was claimed to be the lawyer of Meral Akşener, a politician who was expelled from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) due to her bid to oust the incumbent chairman.
But Akşener denied the news later in the day.
At least 370 lawyers have been jailed, while 967 others have been investigated either over alleged involvement in a coup attempt on July 15, or having links to the Gülen movement, Turkey Purge reported on March 25.
According to Turkey Purge, Turkey’s Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) has dismissed 4,272 judges and prosecutors over alleged links to the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt, while Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on Sunday that 2,575 judges and prosecutors have been jailed.
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 Justice and Development Party (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 any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having been the mastermind. 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.