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Turkish police detain 32, search for 239 people over links to Gülen movement

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Turkish police detained 32 civil servants and are searching for 239 others under detention warrants issued for them as part of investigations into the faith-based Gülen movement in Ankara, İzmir, Konya and Samsun provinces on Wednesday.

According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, 32 civil servants at the Finance Ministry in Ankara were detained, and police were also searching for 50 others in the same ministry for whom detention warrants were issued.

Public prosecutor’s offices in İzmir, Konya and Samsun also issued detention warrants for 53, 134 and two people, respectively, over alleged ties to the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of being behind a failed coup last year.

Suspects are accused of supporting the Gülen movement by depositing money in the now-closed Bank Asya and using the ByLock smartphone application, which Turkish authorities believe is a communication tool among the movement followers.

Bank Asya, once Turkey’s leading Islamic bank, was closed down by the government for its links to the movement.

Turkey survived a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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.

More than 146,000 people, including judges, teachers, police and civil servants, have been sacked since July 15, 2016. 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.

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