Military staff, judges among 65 facing detention over Gülen links

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Turkish prosecutors in several cities have issued detention warrants for 65 active duty and former military officers, dismissed judges and prosecutors, and lawyers and teachers across the country due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, local media reported on Wednesday.

The development comes a day after the İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 69 active duty and former military officers as well as 145 former military cadets as part of investigations into alleged Gülen movement members in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).

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

Some of the suspects for whom arrest warrants were issued in Adana, Ankara, İstanbul, and Konya provinces on Wednesday are accused of using payphones to secretly communicate with their contacts in the Gülen movement, while others are suspected of using the ByLock mobile phone application.

ByLock, once widely available online, has been considered a secret tool of communication among supporters of the faith-based movement since the 2016 abortive putsch despite the lack of any evidence that ByLock messages were related to the attempted coup.

As part of the operations carried out against the movement’s members on Wednesday, police officers have so far detained 10 people, including retired military officers, in Adana and eight suspects in Konya, according to Turkish media reports.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by 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.

The so-called “payphone investigations” are based on call records. The prosecutors assume that a member of the Gülen movement used the same payphone to call all his contacts consecutively. Based on that assumption, when an alleged member of the movement is found in call records, it is assumed that other numbers called right before or after that call also belong to people with Gülen links. Receiving calls from a payphone periodically is also considered a red flag.

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