Military officers among 53 facing detention over alleged Gülen links

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  • Turkish prosecutors have issued detention warrants for a total of 53 people including military officers in separate investigations in İstanbul and Ankara due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

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

According to a statement from the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Friday, the detention of 30 military cadets purged from their schools, nine active-duty officers at the Naval Forces Command and one civilian is sought on the grounds that they communicated with other Gülen followers via payphone — a method prosecutors believe is a secret means of communication among Gülen movement members.

Separately, in Turkey’s largest city of İstanbul, prosecutors issued detention warrants for 13 people who were subsequently detained in police raids across seven provinces due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement on the grounds that they used the ByLock messaging app.

ByLock, once widely available online, is considered by the Turkish government to be a tool of secret communication among supporters of the movement since the failed coup in 2016 despite the lack of any evidence that ByLock messages were related to the abortive putsch.

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.

According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu last month, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 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 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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