New crackdown on Gülenists nets 19 suspects in 9 cities
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULJul 13, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Jul 13, 2016 12:00 am
Police detained 19 suspects, including 13 police officers and six teachers on charges of membership in the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) in the latest chapter in the crackdown on the shady Gülen Movement.
The suspects detained in the western cities of Manisa; Aydın; Balıkesir and Denizli, the eastern cities of Malatya; Van and Erzurum, the northern city of Amasya and the capital Ankara are accused of membership in and funding of a terrorist organization. All suspects were transferred to Manisa for interrogation as the prosecutor's office in the city launched a probe on allegations that some suspects were Gülenist "imams" in law enforcement. Imam is a term used to describe the point men of Fethullah Gülen, the alleged leader of the FETÖ, who relays orders to his followers and supporters. As part of the same investigation, police detained 20 suspects in May and five were released, while the rest were arrested upon the orders of the local court.
The Gülen Movement started as a religious community before evolving into a powerful, politically charged entity and later into a terrorist organization that some experts say depends on education to both advance its ideology as well as expand its funds. Once a respected group, it faces a string of investigations since prosecutors announced they were behind two failed coup attempts in 2013. It is suspected that they have a massive influence within law enforcement with a large number of sympathizers. Since the 2013 coup attempts, the government stepped up the purge of Gülenists from law enforcement. Though most suspects are accused of financing illegal activities of Gülenists, prosecutors say some are also forced to do so once they join Gülenists, either by blackmail or threats to blacklist or imprison them with forged evidence thanks to immense clout of the Movement in upper echelons of judiciary and security forces.
Apart from the above-mentioned charges, Gülenists are accused of illegally wiretapping thousands of people, from the prime minister to journalists and prominent figures. They are also accused of imprisoning their critics or anyone seen as an obstacle to the movement's attempts to gain further clout, and have used sham trials to silence opponents through exploiting operatives in the police, judiciary and upper echelons of bureaucracy. Hundreds of generals, academics and dignitaries were detained for years, in cases where they were accused of staging coups, charges later revealed to be based on false evidence planted by Gülenist infiltrators in law enforcement.