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17 detained in Elazığ-based operation targeting Gülen movement

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At least seventeen people were detained as part of a government-initiated and Elazığ-based operation targeting the Gülen movement, a grassroots initiative comprising of people inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, early on Sunday.

Police officers from the Anti Smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau of the Elazığ Police Department simultaneously raided 22 addresses in the provinces of İstanbul, Bursa, Aydın, Malatya, Van, Adıyaman ve Karaman and Elazığ prior to detentions.

Seventeen out of 22 suspects – including heads of nongovernmental organizations and teachers — were reportedly detained on charges that include “forging official documents” and “bid rigging.”

The detainees were sent to the police department after undergoing medical check at the Elazığ Training and Research Hospital.

The detentions were carried out mainly on suspicion of 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.

Since a corruption investigation erupted on Dec. 17, 2013 and led to the resignation of four Cabinet ministers, 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, which is 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 that 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 in the course of the corruption 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.

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