Minister: Türkiye arrested 1,595 people within one year for links to Gülen

Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced at a press conference on Thursday that Turkish authorities had carried out a total of 5,543 police operations and arrested 1,595 people since June 2023 as part of the government's ongoing crackdown on the religiously-based Gülen movement, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

Speaking to reporters at the “Ankara 365 Media Meetings,” Yerlikaya emphasized the extent of the operations against the movement.

The Gülen movement, founded by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, is accused by the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of planning a failed coup attempt in 2016 and is labeled a “terrorist organization,” although the movement denies any involvement in the coup attempt or other terrorist activities.

This week's arrests and detentions underscored the ongoing crackdown.

On Tuesday, the Izmir Chief Public Prosecutor's Office issued arrest warrants for eight people allegedly linked to the movement. Five of these suspects have been arrested, and the rest are being pursued by the police. The suspects are accused of playing important roles in the organization, including “regional student coordinators” and “leaders of military personnel.”

Further operations on the same day in Malatya resulted in the arrest of four women suspected of being active in the movement, with law enforcement seizing a wealth of documents and digital materials.

On Thursday, the Izmir Chief Public Prosecutor's Office issued arrest warrants against eight people. Police arrested six of the suspects, who were accused of belonging to the movement and using the messaging app ByLock.

ByLock was once widely available on the Internet and has been considered a secret communication tool among supporters of the Gülen movement since the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, although there is no evidence that the ByLock messages were connected to the failed coup.

Since the 2013 corruption investigations that implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle, Erdoğan has targeted supporters of the Gülen movement.

Erdoğan dismissed the investigation as a coup attempt by the Gülenists and a conspiracy against his government, labeled the movement a terrorist organization and began targeting its members. After the failed coup attempt in 2016, which he accused Gülen of masterminding, he intensified the crackdown on the movement. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or terrorist activities.

In addition to the thousands who were imprisoned, numerous other supporters of the Gülen movement were forced to leave Turkey to escape the government's crackdown.

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