Turkey’s General Staff in 2015 drafted a list of generals and officers who were slated to be purged from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and sent it to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with the list finding its way into the emails of Erdoğan’s son-in-law and former minister Berat Albayrak, according to Albayrak’s leaked emails released by WikiLeaks in 2016.
According to Turkish Minute, the General Staff report shows that there were 1,521 military personnel including 63 generals at the TSK at the time who had alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, which is accused by Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016.
Gülen and the movement strongly deny any involvement in the abortive putsch and any terrorist activity.
Following the coup attempt, the AKP government launched a massive crackdown on the movement’s real or alleged members and dismissed more than 130,000 public servants due to their alleged links to the movement.
The fact that the dismissals took place immediately after the coup attempt led to claims that the public servants had already been blacklisted by the government long before the coup attempt as having links to the Gülen movement.
A Word document, named “GENKUR” [an abbreviation for Turkey’s General Staff] was sent to Berat Albayrak by his brother Serhat Albayrak, who is the CEO of a pro-government media company, on May 7, 2015. The document lists the names of alleged Gülen followers in the TSK, recalling that more than 1,400 officers had been purged from the TSK between 1984 and 2000 over alleged links to the movement.
The document, which was presented to Erdoğan, noted that judicial and administrative investigations were underway into 1,521 alleged Gülen members including 63 generals.
According to Turkey’s Defense Ministry, a total of 20,612 military members have been purged from the TSK since the failed coup, and investigations are ongoing into 3,650 others. Among the 326 generals and admirals at the TSK, 198 at the Land Forces Command, 54 at the Naval Forces Command and 74 at the Air Forces Command, 149 of them were purged through government decrees following the coup attempt.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement 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. Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. The crackdown also targeted political opponents of the government, Kurdish activists and human rights defenders, among others.