Turkish prosecutors ordered 81 people detained for alleged links to Gülen in a week

Turkish prosecutors last week ordered the detention of 81 people charged with terrorism because of their alleged links to the Gülen religious movement, local media reported.

Istanbul Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday issued arrest warrants for 32 suspects, including former police chiefs who uncovered a network accused of setting up military officers using female escorts to gain information confidentiality of the Turkish armed forces.

On the same day, the chief prosecutors in Ankara and Bursa issued arrest warrants for a total of 46 people, including serving and former military officers and cadets.

Three other suspects were arrested Monday and Tuesday in Denizli and Kayseri provinces for alleged links to Gülen.

The Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) government launched a war against the Gülen movement, a global civic initiative inspired by the ideas of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, after corruption inquiries from December 17-25, 2013 that involved then Prime Minister and current Family members and entourage of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gulenist coup and conspiracy, the AKP government labeled the movement a terrorist organization and began targeting its members. The government stepped up the crackdown following an attempted coup on July 15, 2016, which it accused Gülen of being the mastermind of. Gülen and the movement firmly deny any involvement in the failed coup or any terrorist activity.

The charges against the suspects include covert communication with their contacts within the movement via public phones.

So-called “public telephone surveys” are based on call recordings. Prosecutors assume that a member of the Gülen movement used the same pay phone to call all of his contacts consecutively. Based on this assumption, when a suspected member of the movement is found in the call records, it is assumed that other numbers called just before or after that call also belong to people with Gülen connections. Periodic reception of calls from a public telephone is also considered an alarm signal. So-called “public telephone surveys” are based on call recordings. Prosecutors assume that a member of the Gülen movement used the same pay phone to call all of his contacts consecutively. Based on this assumption, when a suspected member of the movement is found in the call records, it is assumed that other numbers called just before or after that call also belong to people with Gülen connections. Periodic reception of calls from a public telephone is also considered an alarm signal.

Following the failed coup, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of fighting the coup. More than 130,000 civil servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces, have been summarily dismissed from their posts for membership of or alleged relations with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws failing subject neither to judicial nor parliamentary control.

A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the attempted coup, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on November 22.

In addition to the thousands of people imprisoned, dozens of other supporters of the Gülen movement have had to flee Turkey to avoid government repression.

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