Tarık Toros, columnist at the Özgür Düşünce – one of the few remaining independent dailies in Turkey –, was reportedly among 8 detained as part of a government “witch hunt” targeting the sympathizers of the Gülen movement.
Eight people were detained after İzmir Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Okan Bato ordered detentions of 30 people in 10 provinces across Turkey on suspicion that they are affiliated with the Gülen movement, a grassroots initiative comprising of people inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, against which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had previously declared a “witch hunt.”
The arrests and detentions were reportedly 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 incriminate 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.