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73 detained in separate operations targeting alleged Gülen followers

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Turkish police on Tuesday detained 73 people including active duty officers in separate operations targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in 2016, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding the failed coup on July 15, 2016 and is labelled a “terrorist organization,” although the movement denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The first wave of detentions took place as part of an investigation based in the southern province of Adana. Thirteen active duty officers were detained following raids across 11 provinces on charges of using ByLock, once widely available online, which has been considered a secret tool of communication among supporters of the movement since the failed coup despite the lack of any evidence that ByLock messages were related to the abortive putsch.

The second wave of detentions took place as part of an operation based in the southeastern province of Gaziantep. The Gaziantep Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 57 people on charges of using operational GSM cards, meaning that they were solely used to establish communication among Gülen movement members to avoid wiretapping. Fifty of the suspects were detained following police raids in 22 provinces.

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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