Turkish police on Tuesday detained 25 former and active duty military officers over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding a 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.
As part of the İstanbul-based operation, detention warrants were issued for 29 former and active duty officers as well as four civilians. Twenty-five of them have been detained in raids across eight provinces.
The suspects are accused of receiving messages via payphone — a method that Turkish prosecutors believe is a secret means of communication among Gülen movement members.
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.
President Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by 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.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on February 20, that a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 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 are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged links to the movement.
The government also removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs on alleged Gülen links following the coup attempt.