Turkish authorities on Friday ordered the detention of 27 noncommissioned officers (NCOs) from the military, including active duty personnel, as part of a massive crackdown on the faith-based Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Nineteen people have been taken into custody based on detention warrants issued by the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office as part of an operation that targets alleged members of the movement in the Turkish army.
The suspects are accused of communicating with alleged members of the Gülen movement, a religious group inspired by US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, using payphones in order to avoid being tracked.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the 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. Gülen strongly denies involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity. Following the allegations, Gülen called on the Turkish government to allow for an international investigation.
As part of the crackdown Erdoğan dismissed some 150,000 public servants including members of the armed forces, police officers, teachers, doctors and academics by emergency decree-laws, locking up hundreds of thousands and seizing their assets.
According to the Defense Ministry, a total of 20,077 military personnel have been purged from the Turkish Armed Forces since the failed 2016 coup over their alleged ties to “terrorist organizations.”