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19 former police chiefs face detention warrants over Gülen links

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Turkish prosecutors in Ankara have issued detention warrants for 19 former police chiefs who were fired from their jobs due to alleged links to the Gülen movement in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016, the Tr724 news website reported.

A statement from the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said on Friday that operations were being conducted in 12 provinces to apprehend the suspects, who were accused of communicating with members of the Gülen movement.

Warrants were issued based on phone call records, witness testimony and witness identification records as evidence, it said.

So far 15 suspects have been taken into custody as part of operations conducted under the coordination of the Organized Crime Branch of the Ankara Police Department.

Efforts were underway to detain the other former police chiefs, the statement said.

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 Dec. 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 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.

The Turkish government 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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