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Turkish prosecutors order detention of 64 over alleged Gülen links

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Turkish prosecutors on Tuesday ordered the detention of 64 people, including former police officers and teachers in addition to civil servants, due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, local media reported.

According to Turkish media reports, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday issued detention warrants for 49 people accusing them of staying in Gülen-linked houses between 2014 and 2016 to study for exams for public personnel selection.

Officers from the Ankara Police Department have been ordered to apprehend the suspects as part of an Ankara-based operation carried out in 29 provinces across the country.

The public prosecutor’s office in Adana in a separate investigation ordered the detention of 15 people, including former police officers and teachers who were fired from public service by emergency decrees in the aftermath of a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, local media also said.

The warrants were issued on accusations that the suspects deposited money at the now-closed Bank Asya, at one time one of Turkey’s largest commercial banks, which is considered by Turkish authorities as a sign of membership in the Gülen movement.

The suspects were detained in an operation carried out by the counterterrorism police in Adana early on Tuesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by 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 an 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.

Turkish judicial authorities have been using daily activities involving the exercise and enjoyment of fundamental rights as evidence of terrorist activity.

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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