As part of an ongoing witch-hunt targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, 72 more people were detained on Friday in the Turkish provinces of İzmir and Malatya, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
According to the report 45 people were detained in houses in Malatya where members of the movement were claimed to be hiding, in an investigation launched by the Malatya Public Prosecutor’s Office into the Gülen movement.
In a similar development in the western province Izmir, police detained 27 people including a nephew of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the Gülen movement, part of an investigation being conducted by the Izmir Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Gülen 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.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 12 that 55,665 people had been jailed and 234,419 passports revoked as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Soylu on Nov. 16 had said 48,739 people had been jailed and eight holdings and 1,020 companies seized as part of operations against the movement.
The Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016 through government decrees issued as part of an ongoing state of emergency.
Director General of Public Security Selami Altınok on Dec. 12 said 22,987 police officers have been dismissed over alleged links to the Gülen movement.