Thirty-seven people have been detained in a Bartın-based operation that was also conducted in Karabük, İstanbul and Isparta provinces on terrorism charges for helping the families of people jailed over alleged links to the Gülen movement, local media reported on Thursday.
As part of an investigation launched by the Bartın Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, police raided a warehouse in an abandoned building in the Gölbucak neighborhood that was previously used as a market and detained 37 people, confiscating their savings, jewelry, mobile phones and computers.
According to Turkish media reports, the warehouse contained sugar, oil, legumes and cleaning materials that were alleged to be used to meet the needs of families of people who were expelled from public service via decree-laws, who were in prison due to alleged links to the Gülen movement or who were just released.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish 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 a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.
Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency, which remained in force for two years, and carried out a massive purge of state institutions, summarily dismissing more than 130,000 public servants including academics, teachers, diplomats and police officers with emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations.”
A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in November.
Such daily activities as having an account at or depositing money in a Gülen movement-affiliated bank, working at any institution linked to the movement or subscribing to certain newspapers and magazines were accepted as benchmarks for identifying and arresting alleged members of the movement.
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.