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17 judges and prosecutors disbarred over Gülen links

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Turkey’s Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) has disbarred 17 judges and prosecutors over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.

The decision was reportedly taken on the basis of cell phone surveillance analyses, examination of digital materials, the testimony of other judges and prosecutors and the testimony of individuals who turned informant to benefit from the so-called “effective repentance law” as well as records related to ByLock, a smartphone application that Turkish authorities believe was used among Gülen movement followers.

Former prosecutor Ferhat Sarıkaya, who was previously disbarred, then reinstated and subsequently arrested in November 2018 within the scope of another investigation, was disbarred once again, this time on charges of having ties to the Gülen movement.

Sarıkaya had first come to public attention in 2005 when he had included the name of then-Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt in an indictment concerning the bombing of a bookstore in Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey. He was disbarred by the HSK in 2006 for indicting the army chief and was reinstated in 2011.

The Diken news website pointed out that the disbarments came just five days after Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül claimed completion of the process of “cleansing” the judicial system of Gülenists.

Since a coup attempt in July 2016, over 4,500 judges and prosecutors have been disbarred by the HSK, many of them subjected to further legal prosecution.

The Turkish government accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

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