23 detained in operation at Koza-İpek Holding

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Turkish police officers stand next to the Koza Ipek Holding building in Ankara on September 1, 2015, after they staged a major swoop on the Ankara-based offices of the media group critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and close to his political nemesis, the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen. AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Turkish police teams on Wednesday detained 23 employees of Koza-İpek Holding, which was taken over by the government in 2016 as part of an ongoing government-led crackdown on followers of the faith-based Gülen movement.

The state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) seized Koza-İpek Holding in September 2016 over its links to the Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15.

Akın İpek, the former CEO of the conglomerate, said 18 of the group’s confiscated companies alone were worth over $10 billion.

Ten out of the 23 employees are users of a smart phone application known as ByLock, according to Turkish media reports.

Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt. Turkish authorities believe ByLock is the top communication tool among the followers of the Gülen movement.

The military coup attempt 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.

According to a statement from Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on May 6, 149,833 people have been investigated and 48,636 have been jailed as part of an investigation targeting the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey.

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