Turkish prosecutors have issued detention warrants for 158 people over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, the Demirören news agency reported.
The detention warrants were issued by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and targeted alleged Gülen followers in the Gendarmerie General Command as well as healthcare workers and former police officers.
The Turkish government accuses the 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.
The detention warrants were issued based on reports drafted by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and counterterrorism and cyber security departments of the Security Directorate General.
Raids were carried out on dozens of locations across 50 provinces on Tuesday to detain the suspects, who face accusations of using ByLock, a smart phone application considered a secret tool of communication among Gülen followers; having worked at Gülen-linked organizations or businesses; having contact with other Gülen followers; or having accounts at now-closed Gülen-linked Islamic lender Bank Asya.
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government considers all these acts as signs of terrorist organization membership.
The AKP government launched a war against the Gülen movement after the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013 that implicated then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s family members and inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy, the AKP government designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. The government intensified the crackdown following the coup attempt.
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.