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PM’s chief advisor detained over Gülen links

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Birol Erdem, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s chief advisor, was detained on Saturday in Ankara as part of a witch-hunt targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Erdem’s wife Gülümser Erdem was also detained in Ankara for alleged membership in the Gülen movement as part of the same investigation launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

A former member of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), Birol Erdem served as Justice Ministry undersecretary between 2011-2014 before being appointed chief advisor to the prime minister.

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 Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denies 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 report by the Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt.

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.

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