Forty-five Turkish nationals were deported from Qatar for having links to the faith-based Gulen movement, which Ankara accuses of masterminding a July 15, 2016 coup attempt, the Sabah daily reported on Saturday.
The movement denies involvement, but more than 120,000 people in Turkey have found themselves behind bars over alleged or real ties to the group.
The daily said two of the 45 people — academic Zekeriya Özşevik and his wife Derya Özşevik — were detained upon their arrival in Istanbul, giving no details as to the whereabouts of the others.
A lecturer at Qatar University’s department of English literature and linguistics, Zekeriya was put in pre-trial detention on accusations of membership in a terrorist organization, while his wife was released under judicial supervision.
The Turkish government considers the movement a terrorist organization, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier called on foreign governments to punish Gülen followers within their borders.
This is not the first time a foreign country has detained or deported people over their links to the Gülen movement as part of the Turkish government’s witch-hunt against movement followers.
In May Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Georgia and Myanmar handed over academics, businessmen and school principals upon the Turkish government’s request, despite the fact that some of those victims already had refugee status with the UN.
Turkey has sided with its long-time ally Qatar since a diplomatic dispute erupted between the tiny Gulf state and four Arab countries on June 5, 2016. (Turkey Purge)