Erdoğan says passport ban for 181,500 people to be lifted soon

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ANKARA, TURKEY - JULY 07 : President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) greets the crowd during a meeting on the First Legislative Year of the 27th Term of Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara, Turkey on July 07, 2018. Kayhan Ozer / Anadolu Agency

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday said he would soon end a passport ban for 181,500 people who were investigated over links to the faith-based Gülen movement, promising, however, that the fight against the movement would continue unabated, the state-run TRT haber reported.

“We have been closely following the Fetö [a derogatory term used by government circles to refer to the Gülen movement] court cases. Since the cases have reached a certain phase, a passport ban for 181,500 of them will be lifted in a few days if there are no obstacles,” Erdoğan said, addressing his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group.

“Thus, we will end the unjust suffering of the people who cannot get passports because of their family members,” added Erdoğan.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 12, 2017 said 234,419 passports had been revoked as part of investigations into the Gülen movement since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

President Erdoğan and his ruling AKP government pursued a crackdown on the movement following corruption operations in December 2013 in which the inner circle of the government and then-Prime Minister Erdoğan were implicated.

Erdoğan also accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup attempt in July 2016.

Despite the movement strongly denying involvement in the failed coup, Erdoğan launched a witch-hunt targeting the group following the putsch.

According to a European Commission (EC) report on April 17, “since the introduction of the state of emergency on July 20,2016, over 150 000 people were taken into custody, 78 000 were arrested and over 110 000 civil servants were dismissed.”

The Turkish Interior Ministry announced on July 2 that 15,190 people have been detained in first half of the year.

On Nov. 16, 2017 Soylu had said eight holdings and 1,020 companies were seized as part of operations against the movement.

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