Turkish police detained 16 people across 30 provinces in an Ankara-based investigation as part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch-hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement after the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for more than 85 suspects.
Online news website Aktif Haber reported that 75 people were identified as former police academy students along with 10 lawyers, five of whom were allegedly using ByLock, a mobile phone application that Turkish authorities claim is the top communication tool among alleged members of the Gülen movement.
The 16 detainees were taken to the Ankara Security Directorate, while police officers are still carrying out the operation to take the remaining suspects into custody.
According to data compiled by independent monitoring site The Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative, 565 lawyers had been arrested as of November 28, 2017 since July 2016, and 1,448 lawyers were under prosecution as of Oct. 27, 2017. Sixty-nine lawyers have received lengthy prison sentences thus far. Some of the arrested lawyers were reportedly subjected torture and ill treatment. Fourteen of the detained or arrested lawyers are presidents or former presidents of provincial bar associations.
Turkey survived a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling 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.
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. (Stockholm Center for Freedom [SCF] with Turkish Minute)