Turkey orders detention of 100 people over alleged Gülen links in a week

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Turkish authorities have over the past week ordered the detention of 100 people including employees of a private security company and active duty, retired and dismissed military officers as well as civilians due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing the state-run Anadolu news agency.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Friday issued detention warrants for 51 civilians and active duty, retired and former military officers over alleged Gülen links.

The Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in İstanbul on Tuesday ordered the detention of 16 employees and executives of the Hisar security company. According to the office, the security company was established by former executives of Kaynak Holding, which was seized by the Turkish government in November 2015 due to its links to the Gülen movement.

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 an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

As part of the İstanbul-based operation, detention warrants were issued on Monday for 29 former and active duty officers as well as four civilians. Twenty-five of them have been detained in raids across eight provinces.

The suspects are accused of receiving messages via payphone — a method that Turkish prosecutors believe is a secret means of communication among Gülen movement members.

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.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on February 20, that 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 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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