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40 face detention for alleged Gülen links in investigations in Ankara, İstanbul

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Turkish prosecutors have issued detention warrants for 40 people as part of two investigations in Ankara and İstanbul due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, the Kronos news website reported.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and is labeled a “terrorist organization,” although the movement denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The 25 suspects facing detention in İstanbul include former police officers, teachers and prison guards who are accused of engaging in activities within the movement such as attending religious talks. Suspects were detained in police operations in Adana, İzmir and Isparta in addition to İstanbul on Tuesday, and three of them were subsequently arrested.

As part of the investigation in Ankara, prosecutors issued detention warrants for 15 people for having used the ByLock smart phone application and attending religious talks with other members of the movement.

Turkish authorities consider ByLock, once widely available online, a secret tool of communication among supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, despite the lack of any evidence that ByLock messages were related to the abortive putsch, leading to the arrest of thousands who were using it.

In a surprise move last week, a Turkish court declined to impose a sentence on a Turkish-American who holds the license for ByLock since he benefitted from the repentance law.

The İstanbul 29th High Criminal Court last Wednesday ruled there was no need to sentence Alpaslan Demir, who changed his name to David Keynes after acquiring US citizenship, to prison, citing the fact that he had turned himself in and gave information to the authorities regarding the accusations against him voluntarily. He benefited from the repentance provision under the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).

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