20 former public servants detained over alleged Gülen links in İstanbul

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Turkish police teams on Friday detained 20 former public servants in raids in İstanbul due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, the Kronos news website reported.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed 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 former public servants, who were removed from their posts by government decrees under the pretext of an anti-coup fight following the abortive putsch, are accused of having used ByLock, a smart phone application considered to be a secret form of communication among Gülen followers, and helping the families of people who were jailed over Gülen links, considered criminal acts by Turkish judicial authorities and demonstrating membership in a terrorist organization.

The detainees were taken to the İstanbul Police Department in handcuffs for questioning.

Following the failed coup, 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 29,934 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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