Turkish National Police Chief Celal Uzunkaya has announced that there are currently 2,649 people who live under a witness protection program in Turkey and that 85 percent of these people are witnesses in terrorism cases, the Anatolia news agency reported on Friday.
Uzunkaya said a total of 4,282 people have been shielded by this program since a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 and that 2,649 people are still benefiting from it.
The police chief said a significant number of people have become secret witnesses following the coup attempt.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight as a result of which more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 50,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has on many occasions called on the Turkish people to report alleged Gülen followers to judicial authorities so that they can be prosecuted.
Uzunkaya said 70 percent of those benefiting from the witness protection program were witnesses in cases against Gülen followers while 27 were witnesses in terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) cases.