96 detained over alleged Gülen links in a week

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Turkish authorities have detained of a total of 96 suspects in a week, part of a relentless witch-hunt against the Gülen movement, according to reports by Turkish media.

Turkish police on Monday detained 70 people, including former military officers in three separate operations targeting alleged members of the movement. The suspects, who were detained as part of operations in the western province of İzmir, the central province of Konya and the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, are accused of continuing involvement in the movement’s activities and using the ByLock messaging app.

ByLock is an encrypted messaging app used on smartphones and was available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Turkish authorities claim that ByLock was a communication tool exclusively used by members of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, to ensure the privacy of their conversations.

On Wednesday 15 people were taken into custody based on detention warrants issued by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office over alleged Gülen links and ByLock use.

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

Today 11 people, six of whom are active duty officers in the Turkish Armed Forces, were taken into custody as part of an investigation conducted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which issued detention warrants for 16 people over alleged Gülen links.

According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on February 20, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The Turkish government also removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs on alleged Gülen links following the coup attempt.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

Source: Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF)

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