Turkish prosecutors ordered detention of 176 people over alleged Gülen links in a week

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Turkish prosecutors have over the past week ordered the detention of 176 people on terrorism charges due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported on Friday, citing local media.

On Monday the Konya public prosecutor issued detention warrants for 10 suspects, including active duty and retired military officers.

Prosecutors in Ankara issued detention warrants for 102 on Tuesday, including 63 dismissed public servants.

An additional 14 detention warrants were issued in Kütahya and Balıkesir provinces on Wednesday.

On Friday detention warrants were issued for a total of 50 individuals by prosecutors in İstanbul and Ankara for their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The accusations against the suspects include secretly communicating with their contacts within the movement via payphones.

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 that he accused Gülen of masterminding.

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.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on November 22.

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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