Turkish police on Wednesday detained eight people in western Turkey including police officers and teachers who were removed from public service in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016 due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, the Kronos news website reported.
The Turkish government accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
The detentions took place in the northwestern province of Edirne. The children of the suspects were left with their relatives after the detention of their parents as some of the suspects were husband and wife.
They are facing charges of aiding and abetting a terrorist organization and membership in a terrorist organization due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, inspired by the views of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen.
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government launched a war against the Gülen movement after the corruption investigations of Dec. 17-25, 2013 that implicated then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s family members and inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy, the AKP government designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. The government intensified the crackdown following the coup attempt.
Following the abortive putsch, 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 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 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.
A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in November.
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.