Erdoğan admits trapping Gülen movement people

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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara on November 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday admitted that people sympathetic to the Gülen movement have been trapped in Turkey, saying intelligent people have left the country, BBC reported.

“When we said don’t send your children to their [Gülen movement] schools, it was not for nothing. When we said don’t put your money in their bank [Bank Asya, which was seized by the government in 2015], it was not for nothing,” said Erdoğan at his Justice and Development Party (AKP) group meeting in Parliament.

“Those who didn’t get their money from their bank now come and say they did not do it intentionally. You did everything intentionally. You sold your cars, your homes, and put the money in their bank. Now you complain that you didn’t do anything wrong. I’m sorry. Those who are intelligent left Turkey, those who are not  intelligent were trapped here,” added ErdoĞan.

Erdoğan and his government launched an all-out war against the Gülen movement following corruption operations in December 2013 in which ministers and the son of then-Prime Minister Erdoğan were accused of having taken bribes from an Iranian businessman to facilitate transactions benefiting Iran.

After Erdoğan cast the case as a coup attempt to overthrow his government orchestrated by his political enemies, several prosecutors were removed from the case, police were reassigned and the corruption investigation was dropped.

Erdoğan publicly called on people not to send their children to Gülen movement schools, not to read or watch their media and not to put their money in Bank Asya. All were legal but were linked to the Gülen movement.

Penal courts of peace, which were established by the Erdoğan government in mid-2014, started to jail people and seize companies, media and schools linked with the Gülen movement from summer 2014 on.

Erdoğan also accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Having a bank account at Bank Asya, subscribing to media linked with the movement and sending children to schools run by the movement were mentioned as being among reasons for the purge and detention of thousands of people.

The government has also seized to at least 1,068 companies and 4,888 properties as part of a witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement.

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