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US soldier, detained by Turkey over alleged Gülen links, released

A US service member has been released after being detained at an İstanbul airport on allegations that he was linked to the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in 2016, a top spokeswoman for US European Command confirmed.

Navy Capt. Wendy Snyder told Task & Purpose on Thursday that the service member was no longer in Turkish custody, but she had no further information.

Stars and Stripes identified the service member as Army Spc. Yahya Özer, who is assigned to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force–Syria. Turkish media reported that Özer was stationed at İncirlik Air Base as a translator.

A State Department spokesperson said the department was aware of reports that a US service member had been detained at an İstanbul airport but declined to comment further on the matter, citing “privacy considerations.”

It was not immediately clear how the soldier was allegedly connected to the Gülen movement, against whose members the Turkish government has been carrying out a widespread purge since the failed coup on July 15, 2016.

Since the abortive putsch, more than 150,000 people have been removed from state jobs while in excess of 50,000 others have been jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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