9 former and active duty officers detained over alleged Gülen links in ‘payphone investigation’

Arrested officer

Turkish police have detained nine active duty and former military officers out of 12 being sought on warrants due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement based on payphone call records, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Bold Media.

Counterterrorism units from the Ankara Police Department conducted operations to detain the 12 suspects across four provinces as part of the investigation based in Ankara on Monday.

The Turkish government accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Among those sought on warrants issued by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office are a lieutenant colonel, a lieutenant, two retired colonels, two dismissed officers and two former military cadets.

They are accused of secretly communicating with their contacts within the movement via payphones.

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 the other numbers called right before or after that call also belong to people with Gülen links.

Following the coup attempt, 16,409 military cadets were expelled from their academies by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny, and 355 of them were given life sentences, with some of them overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals. As of July 2022, 209 cadets were still behind bars.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

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