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Turkey ordered detention of 173 people over alleged Gülen links in a week

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Turkish prosecutors have over the past week ordered the detention of 173 people due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing local media.

As part of an investigation launched on Tuesday by the İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, detention warrants have been issued for 16 active duty and 12 former military officers and 73 former military cadets. Turkish police have detained 87 of the suspects in operations across Turkey.

The same day the public prosecutor’s office in Ankara issued detention warrants for 26 people over alleged Gülen links. Police conducted operations in 10 provinces and detained 18 suspects.

Fourteen people including former civil servants were detained on Friday in police raids in three provinces as part of an investigation by the same office.

An additional 21 detention warrants were issued in Gaziantep 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 Balıkesir Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday issued detention warrants for 11 people due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement based on payphone call records. Police raids were conducted in eight provinces in which nine suspects were detained.

The accusations against the suspects include secretly communicating with their contacts within the movement via payphones. The detention warrants were issued based on lists drafted by the country’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) detailing people who used payphones.

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.

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, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces 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 in November.

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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