One hundred fifty-four people have been detained over alleged Gülen links while trying to flee Turkey by illegally crossing the Bulgarian or Greek borders since a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, the Diken news website reported on Tuesday.
In addition, some 20,000 people annually have been prevented from crossing the border in northwestern Edirne province.
As Turkish authorities accuse the faith-based Gülen movement of orchestrating the abortive putsch — although the movement denies any involvement — followers have been fleeing Turkey to escape persecution.
Turkey has investigated more than 400,000 people over alleged Gülen links since the start of a post-coup crackdown, according to the Justice Ministry.
Security forces in Edirne also detained 100 alleged members of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) during border surveillance.
Turkish refugees attempting to flee Turkey and reach Europe has been a new phenomenon since the coup attempt. Some of them, including children, died in the Aegean Sea or the Evros River in their effort to escape persecution.
More than 16,640 people succeeded in crossing the border in 2017 and applied for asylum in the 28 EU countries as well as Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland, according to European Asylum Support Office (EASO) data. The data also indicate that there has been a 30 percent increase in Turkish asylum seekers in 2018.