Turkey detains soldiers, cadets on Gülen links

Police and gendarmerie forces in seven provinces conducted house raids early Tuesday to detain active duty and former soldiers as well as former military cadets on charges of links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group accused by the government of “terrorist activities,” the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The dawn raids were carried out as part of an İzmir-based investigation for which prosecutors issued detention warrants for a total of 23 people, including nine soldiers, six of whom were on active duty, and 14 cadets previously removed from military schools.

With 18 people detained in the raids, the security forces are now looking for the remaining five, two of whom are reportedly abroad.

The detainees were targeted based on witness testimony denouncing them as Gülen followers and their alleged phone communications, according to the report.

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. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch in 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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