Thousands of soldiers to be purged from Turkish military, daily says

Arrested officer

An extensive investigation is ongoing in the Turkish military targeting thousands of soldiers over their alleged links with the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by Turkish authorities of being behind a failed coup last summer, the HaberTürk daily reported on Tuesday.

According to HaberTürk’s report, in addition to 9,000 already dismissed from the Turkish armed forces, “thousands of more staff” might be purged as part of investigations that were launched following the failed coup on July 15, 2016.

Prosecutors who are in charge of the probe conducted by the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office are investigating thousands of soldiers who had allegedly used ByLock, a smart phone application that authorities believe is a communication tool among Gülen movement followers, or who were promoted as a result of fraud in examinations. Tens of thousands of civil servants, police officers and businessmen have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) has said that at least 102,000 Gülenists had used ByLock. “A list of 102,000 people has been sent to us from courts. We have prepared reports and met the demands of the courts one by one, whichever court has the investigation files of these people on the list,” Ömer Fatih Sayan, the head of BTK, told the pro-government Sabah daily.

“By exposing the records of which days, where and how many messages the names on the list, which the courts have sent us, exchanged correspondences, we have confirmed that they have used ByLock. By getting detailed records of their correspondences, we have once again determined that they have used ByLock,” Sayan said.

Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) previously prepared a list of a total of 102,000 alleged users of the ByLock smartphone app and sent it to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which passed it onto local courts, for an investigation. The list includes people from police forces, military, judiciary system, education system and top state institutions.

Turkey survived a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting participants of the Gülen movement in jails.

At least 161,751 people were detained or investigated and 50,334 people were arrested in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to statistics reported by state-run Anadolu news agency by basing on information taken from the officials from Turkey’s Justice Minsitry on June 13. (SCF with & June 27, 2017

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