Turkey orders detention of 113 people over alleged Gülen links in 2 investigations

Turkey orders detention of 113 people over alleged Gülen links in 2 investigations

Turkish authorities on Friday ordered the detention of 113 people due to alleged links to the Gülen movement as part of two separate investigations, the Bold Medya news website reported.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Friday issued detention warrants for 98 people over their alleged links to the Gülen movement’s network at the Gendarmerie General Command. Forty-six people have been detained in operations in 45 provinces.

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 investigation was reportedly launched in connection with efforts of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the police department’s counterterrorism and cyber crime branches to identify users of the payphone system -– a method Turkish prosecutors believe is a secret means of communication among Gülen movement members.

The so-called “payphone investigations” are based on call records. The prosecutors assume that a member of the Gülen movement used the same payphone to call all his contacts consecutively. Based on that assumption, when an alleged member of the movement is found in call records, it is assumed that other numbers called right before or after that call also belong to people with Gülen links. Receiving calls from a payphone periodically is also considered a red flag.

In another investigation launched by the Balıkesir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, detention warrants were issued for 15 people over alleged Gülen links, and in the gendarmerie raids simultaneously conducted in Balıkesir, İstanbul and Düzce, 15 people including three public servants were taken into custody.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on February 20, that a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 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 there are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the movement.

The 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.