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Turkey detains 67 people over alleged Gülen links

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Turkish police on Wednesday detained 67 people for alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by the government of “terrorist activities,” the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

Carried out in 14 provinces, the detentions were announced on social media by Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya.

Yerlikaya said the detainees included people who were involved in the movement’s alleged infiltration of the military and the police as well as those whose names were mentioned during police interrogations and court hearings.

The minister also announced that the authorities have conducted a total of 4,022 such operations and detained 6,045 suspected members of the movement since June 2023 when he took office.

Turkish authorities routinely rely on witness statements as evidence to identify and prosecute members of the group.

The defendants in the trials against the movement are often encouraged to benefit from the country’s repentance laws allowing for reduced penalties in exchange for denouncing other members of the group.

In recent years, there have also been many reports about the alleged use of torture and ill-treatment in custody to coerce detainees into becoming informants and incriminating others.

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 in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

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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