İYİ Party head of communications detained over Gülen links

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Kerim Çoraklık, head of the communications team of the opposition İYİ (Good) Party, has been detained on charges of disseminating the propaganda of the faith-based Gülen movement, the pro-government Sabah daily reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, Çoraklık was detained by İstanbul counterterrorism police as part of an investigation launched by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The detention of Çoraklık came on the same day that pro-government newspapers published front-page stories claiming that Çoraklık serves as a liaison between the social media accounts of the Gülen movement and İYİ Party, chaired by Meral Akşener, the party’s presidential candidate for the June 24 presidential election.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and pro-government media have been focusing on links between the movement and the İYİ Party, which is expected to get votes from AKP supporters in the June 24 parliamentary elections.

Social media expert Çoraklık was detained on Sept 7, 2016 along with columnists from the nationalist Yeni Çağ newspaper over alleged links to the Gülen movement. He was released on Oct. 20, 2016.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AKP government pursued a crackdown on the Gülen movement following corruption operations in December 2013 in which the inner circle of the government and then-Prime Minister Erdoğan were implicated.

Erdoğan also accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

Despite the movement strongly denying involvement in the failed coup, Erdoğan launched a witch-hunt targeting the movement following the failed putsch.

The government also declared a state of emergency in the aftermath of the coup, which is still in effect.

The European Commission (EC) on April 17 called on the Turkish government to “lift the state of emergency without delay,” saying that widespread dismissals, arrests and detentions continue to raise serious concerns.

Citing “the broad scale and collective nature, and the disproportionality of measures,” the EC in its “2018 Report on Turkey” said: “Since the introduction of the state of emergency, over 150 000 people were taken into custody, 78 000 were arrested and over 110 000 civil servants were dismissed whilst, according to the authorities, some 40 000 were reinstated of which some 3 600 by decree.”

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 12, 2017 that 234,419 passports have been revoked as part of investigations into the movement since the failed coup.

On Nov. 16, 2017 Soylu had said eight holdings and 1,020 companies were seized as part of operations against the movement.

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