Turkey issues detention warrants for 295 active duty military officers over alleged Gülen links

Turkish authorities have ordered the detention of 304 people, including 295 active duty military officers, in what is considered the largest operation against members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) suspected of links to the Gülen movement, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Two hundred-four of the suspects were detained based on warrants issued by the İzmir Public Prosecutor’s Office in western Turkey. One hundred ninety-three suspects are or were members of the Turkish army and 111 were from the Turkish Air Forces.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, 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 and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Anadolu also reported that the names of 868 military personnel who are accused of ties to the Gülen movement as a result of the findings of an administrative investigation were sent to army and air force headquarters in Ankara. The said personnel are expected to be dismissed.

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. Over 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors as well as 20,571 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.

After the end of the state of emergency, a similar regime was created with a temporary law that would be in effect for 36 months, until July 2021, that makes it possible to remove officers through administrative measures. According to this law, officials suspected of membership in or affiliation with entities deemed a threat to national security can be dismissed by the ministers upon the proposal of a disciplinary commission.

Turkish prosecutors also issued detention warrants the same day for 37 individuals, including 31 medical doctors, as part of an operation at Gülhane Education and Research Hospital (GATA), which was both serving as the armed forces college of medicine and a military hospital until the abortive putsch. The suspects include two professors, five associate professors, five purged colonels, one retired colonel, five purged lieutenant colonels, an active-duty major, two active-duty captains and a purged lieutenant.

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