51 Gülen followers attempting to flee to Greece detained in western Turkey

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Turkey’s coast guard has detained 51 Turks in the western province of İzmir who were attempting to flee to Greece by boat due to ongoing investigations or prison sentences they face on charges of alleged membership in the Gülen movement, the Kronos news website reported.

There were also three Syrian nationals on the boat, which was stopped by the coast guards in the Gulf of Çandarlı near İzmir after they received a tipoff about people trying to flee illegally to Greece.

The 54 people were detained and taken to the Dikili Gendarmerie Command.

The Turkish government accuses the faith-based 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.

Thousands of people have fled Turkey due to a witch-hunt launched by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt.

Many have tried to exit Turkey illegally since the government has revoked thousands of passports.

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 Nov. 22.

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

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