Turkey orders detention of 54 people, including 35 academics, over alleged Gülen links in 2 days

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Turkish prosecutors ordered the detention of 54 people, including 35 academics, due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, over the course of two days, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing Turkish media.

As part of an investigation launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, detention warrants were issued on Tuesday for 35 academics who worked at now-closed universities around the country. Turkish police conducted operations in 32 provinces across Turkey and detained 27 suspects.

On Monday, the public prosecutor’s office in İstanbul issued detention warrants for 11 individuals over alleged Gülen links. Police detained 10 of the suspects.

Eight people were detained the same day in police operations in Kastamonu as part of an investigation by the public prosecutor’s office in the province.

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 in July 2016, that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Following the coup attempt, 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 7,316 academics, 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 24,706 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.

Professors, associate professors and lecturers from nearly all universities in Turkey were targeted in the government’s post-coup crackdown.

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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