Turkish police on Wednesday detained more than 140 people, most of whom are active duty Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) officers and former military cadets, in operations across dozens of provinces due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in 2016.
The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and is labeled a “terrorist organization,” although the movement denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
The first wave of detentions took place as part of an operation based in the western province of İzmir, where prosecutors issued detention warrants for 148 people, 103 of whom are active duty officers and 14 former military cadets. Following simultaneous police raids across 47 provinces, 130 of the suspects were detained. They are accused of secretly communicating via pay phone, a method that Turkish prosecutors believe is a means of communicating with the Gülen movement.
The second detentions on Wednesday were part of an investigation conducted by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Thirteen military officers were detained following raids in 10 provinces. Three suspects are still at large.
According to a statement from the TSK in November, a total of 5,587 officers have been purged from the military since the coup attempt. A total of 1,512 retired officers were stripped of their rank in the same period.
Since the coup attempt, followers of the Gülen movement have been subjected to a massive crackdown, with the Turkish government and pro-government media outlets demonizing its members.
According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu last November, a total of 292,000 people have been detained while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup. The minister said there were 25,655 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed over links to the movement.
The Turkish government also removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs on alleged Gülen links following the coup attempt.
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.