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22 detained in Turkey over alleged Gülen links

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Turkish police on Wednesday detained 22 people including former military and police officers as part of two separate operations targeting alleged members of the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of “terrorism,” the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing Turkish public broadcaster TRT.

The public prosecutor’s office in İzmir on Wednesday issued detention warrants for 20 people including former police officers over alleged Gülen links. Police conducted operations at various addresses and detained 18 suspects.

Four people were detained the same day in police raids in the eastern province of Erzurum as part of an investigation by the public prosecutor’s office in the province.

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 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Following the coup attempt, 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 24,706 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.

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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