Turkey orders hundreds of detentions over alleged Gülen links in less than a week

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Turkish authorities have ordered the detention of 256 people in the last five days due to alleged links to the Gülen movement, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported citing Turkish media.

The İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday issued detention warrants for a total of 229 people including 57 active duty officers, 29 dismissed military personnel and 143 former cadets expelled from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) over alleged links to the movement.

Police conducted operations across 47 provinces as part of the operation based in İzmir and detained 125 of the suspects.

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office also ordered the detention of 27 former military cadets on Tuesday, Bold Medya reported. Eighteen suspects were taken into custody the same day.

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 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.

The country’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar recently announced that 23,364 personnel from the Turkish Armed Forces have been expelled over Gülen links since the failed coup.

According to the pro-government Sabah daily, when members dismissed from the gendarmerie and the coast guard are included, the total increases to 29,444. The figure does not include 16,409 military cadets who were expelled after the coup attempt.

According to Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 312,121 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 as of February 2021 there were 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the 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.

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