Gülen movement link claims in Turkish top appointments

Some of the new appointed ministers and deputy ministers appointed directly by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have raised eyebrows as having been suspected of links to the Gülen movement, a religious group that the government says carried out a July 2016 coup attempt against Erdoğan.

New tourism minister Mehmet Ersoy came under investigation for his links to the group, while new agriculture minister Bekir Pakdemir’s brother is currently jailed as a member, opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet said.

Erdoğan’s new deputy health minister Muhammet Güven also appeared in a prosecutor’s statement as the Gülen movement’s favoured candidate in a rectoral election at Kayseri’s Erciyes University.

Şakir Batmaz, who is said to have been one of the top people in the Gülen movement, was working at the university and organised events in support of Güven’s candidacy.

Batmaz’s younger brother, Kemal Batmaz, is one of five civilians accused of leading the coup attempt and facilitating communication between group leader Fethullah Gülen and the military on the night of the coup.

The prosecutor’s statement further accused Şakir Batmaz of convincing Güven to exonerate Gülen movement members at risk of being fired from the university and of using his place on the university senate during Güven’s rectorship to secure financial benefits for the movement.

Another appointment that has led to a reaction is that of new deputy culture and tourism minister Ahmet Haluk Dursun.

Dursun came under criticism in 2014 for a Facebook post describing the female employees of the ministry as being unable to cook or make tea and criticising them for talking too much.