More than 350 face detention in massive operations targeting Gülen movement followers

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Turkish prosecutors have issued detention warrants for more than 350 people in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the Gülhane Education and Research Hospital (GATA) and the Health Ministry in three separate operations due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

As part of the largest operation into alleged members of the Gülen movement in the TSK, Turkish prosecutors have issued detention warrants for 304 people, most of whom are active duty military officers.

In the early hours of Tuesday, police teams began to conduct raids across 50 provinces as part of the İzmir-based operation to detain the suspects, who are accused of communicating with Gülen movement members through pay phones to avoid detection.

The suspects facing detention include five colonels, one lieutenant colonel, one major, 10 captains, 58 lieutenants, 221 noncommissioned officers, seven special sergeants and one civilian. While 193 of the suspects are from the Land Forces Command, 111 are with the Air Forces Command.

As part of the operation at GATA, whose former name, Gülhane Military Medical Academy, was changed following the coup attempt, detention warrants were issued for 37 people, 31 of whom are doctors. The suspects include two professors, five associate professors, five purged colonels, one retired colonel, five purged lieutenant colonels, an active duty major, two active-duty captains and a purged lieutenant.

As part of the third operation at the Health Ministry, detention warrants have been issued for 10 Health Ministry personnel, who have been detained. The detainees include three currently working doctors, three purged doctors, two doctors who resigned from their jobs, one retired doctor and one nurse. The detainees are accused of having a bank account at the Bank Asya, which was closed following the coup attempt due to its links to the Gülen movement; and using ByLock, a mobile phone application considered by Turkish authorities to be a secret tool of communication among Gülen movement members. Prosecutors have reportedly obtained statements from informants concerning their Gülen movement membership.

The operations targeting healthcare personnel come at a time when the Turkish healthcare system is overwhelmed by the soaring number of coronavirus cases in the country.

Following the coup attempt the Turkish government removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs due to alleged Gülen links.

According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Nov. 26, a total of 292,000 people have been detained while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,655 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed due to links to the Gülen movement.

Since the coup attempt, followers of the Gülen movement have been subjected to a massive crackdown, with the Turkish government and pro-government media outlets demonizing its members.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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