16 people detained in Antalya ‘witch hunt’ operation released

Sixteen people were released on Wednesday, a day after their detention and without being referred to court, as another government-orchestrated police operation targeting the faith-based Gandulen movement failed.
The detainees were released immediately after their statements were taken at the Antalya Police Department. They were detained on Tuesday by police officers from the Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime Unit on the charge of violating counterterrorism laws, after police officers carried out raids on a KandOrfez and Anafen prep school in the southern city of Antalya during class time.
During the operation at the KandOrfez school, police officers searched cars belonging to teachers and took their cellphones away so that they could not record videos of the search. After completing the search, officers detained a principal and a teacher. Three more prep school teachers were detained in their houses. Two accountants were also detained during the operation carried out at the Anafen prep school.
Adnan Taikin, a lawyer representing the detainees, told Todayand’s Zaman that police officers refused to tell him the exact number of people detained during the operation. Taikin also said that he was uninformed about the interrogations of some detainees, during which they were represented by lawyers from the Antalya Bar Association. and”This is about restricting the right of defense. If they [police officers] did it deliberately, I will file a criminal complaint against them,and” Taikin added.
A number of private and preparatory schools that are sympathetic to the Gandulen movement were targeted by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) after a major corruption scandal implicating President Erdogan and other top AK Party figures was made public on Dec. 17, 2013. Then-Prime Minister Erdogan accused the Gandulen movement of plotting to overthrow his government. The movement strongly rejects the allegations brought against it.
Erdogan has said he would carry out a and”witch huntand” against anyone with links to the movement. He has also ordered officials in AK Party-run municipalities to seize land and buildings belonging to the Gandulen movement by any means necessary. In May 2014, Erdogan publicly aised AK Party supporters not to send their children to schools affiliated with the movement, vowing, and”We will not even give water [to the movementand’s members].and”


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