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19 detained over alleged Gülen links for helping university students in İstanbul

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Turkish police have detained 19 people on charges of links to the Gülen movement for providing financial support to university students in İstanbul, the TR724 news website reported.

The detainees are accused of taking part in the restructuring activities of the Gülen movement, blamed by the Turkish government for an attempted coup on July 15, 2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the abortive putsch.

The detentions took place following police raids across seven provinces as part of the İstanbul-based operation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members, and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch.

According to a statement from Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on February 20, 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.

The government also removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs on alleged Gülen links following the coup attempt.

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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