Forty-seven police officers were detained in operations across 32 provinces on Monday due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in 2016, the TR724 news website reported.
The detentions took place as part of an investigation based in the western province of Balıkesir, where prosecutors issued detention warrants for 61 police officers. The remaining 14 suspects could not be located, and a search is under way to apprehend them.
The police officers are accused of communicating with alleged members of the Gülen movement via payphones to avoid detection during the time they studied at the Balıkesir Police Vocational School of Higher Education.
The so-called “payphone investigations” are based on call records. The prosecutors assume that a member of the Gülen movement used the same payphone to call all his contacts consecutively. Based on that assumption, when an alleged member of the movement is found in call records, it is assumed that other numbers called right before or after that call also belong to people with Gülen links. Receiving calls from a payphone periodically is also considered a red flag.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members, and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.