Detention warrants were issued for a total of 202 individuals on Friday that targeted alleged followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016.
Ninety-eight of the individuals were detained in the provinces of Ankara, Aydın, Manisa, Antalya and İzmir following simultaneous police raids on Friday morning. The detainees include military officers, teachers, doctors and salespeople, some of whom are accused of using ByLock, a smart phone application that is the top communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement according to Turkish authorities.
In another operation in the central province of Kayseri, 32 teachers who were removed from their posts by the government due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement after July 15 were detained.
In a parallel development the İstanbul Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants for 72 people working for Süleyman Şah University, which was seized and closed by the government following the coup attempt on July 15.
These detainees are also reportedly accused of using ByLock.
Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt.
The military coup attempt on July 15 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.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, 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.
Over 145,000 people from state institutions have been purged, while over 115,000 have been detained and over 50,000 have been arrested over alleged Gülen links since July 15.
Contrary to accusations made by President Erdoğan and the Turkish government, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament concluded in March that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind the failed coup in Turkey.
The UK Parliament statement came a week after Germany rejected Erdoğan and the Turkish government’s accusations against the Gülen movement about July 15.
The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup in July.
Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he has not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the putsch in Turkey.
In addition, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge.