Turkey ordered detention of 51 people over alleged Gülen links in a week

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Turkish prosecutors have over the past week ordered the detention of 51 people due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing local media reports.

Ten active duty, retired or dismissed military officers were detained in police raids in five provinces as part of an investigation. Detention warrants were issued on Tuesday by the Balıkesir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 17 people.

The same day the chief public prosecutor’s office in Ankara ordered the detention of 10 people over alleged Gülen links. Police conducted operations in several provinces to detain six suspects.

An additional 12 detention warrants were issued in Denizli and Edirne provinces on Wednesday and Thursday.

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. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The İzmir Public Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday issued detention warrants for 12 individuals on accusations that they used the ByLock messaging app, once widely available online and considered by the government to be a tool of secret communication among supporters of the movement. Police raids were conducted in İzmir and İstanbul to detain the suspects.

Following the coup attempt, 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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