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Academic detained for ‘terror membership’ in latest episode of gov’t witch-hunt

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An academic teaching law at the Antalya-based Akdeniz University was detained for “being a member and spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” as part of a government-backed witch-hunt operation targeting the faith-based Gülen movement.

According to diken.com.tr news website, an investigation was launched against Assistant Professor Mehmet Nihat Kanbur over a complaint which claimed that he “spreads for a terrorist organization and inciting rebellion” during lessons. Police searched Kanbur’s office at the Law Faculty and he was subsequently detained for “being a member and spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

He is reportedly accused being a member of the so-called the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY),” which is used by the government-backed judiciary to frame sympathizers of the Gülen movement, a grassroots social initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

“Parallel state” is a term coined by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in December 2013 to refer to people believed to be inspired by the ideas of Gülen, especially those within the state bureaucracy.

Since a corruption investigation that implicated figures close to the government, as well as government members themselves, came to public attention on Dec. 17, 2013, there have been many similar police operations carried out targeting shopkeepers, teachers, members of the judiciary, journalists and police officers who are accused of being affiliated with the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement. The graft probe implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, members of his family and senior Justice and Development Party (AK Party) figures.

Erdoğan accused the Gülen movement of plotting to overthrow his government and said sympathizers of the movement within the police department had fabricated the graft scandal. Since then, hundreds of police officers have been detained and some arrested for alleged illegal activity during the course of the investigation. Erdoğan said he would carry out a “witch hunt” against anyone with links to the movement.

The Gülen movement strongly rejects the allegations brought against it. There is not a court decision which declares the movement as a terrorist group either.

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