Turkish authorities issue detention warrants for 53 former and active duty military members

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday ordered the detention of 53 active duty and former military members as part of a massive crackdown on the faith-based Gülen movement, Turkish media reported.

Police detained 41 suspects after raiding 76 locations in 21 cities over their alleged communication with suspected members of the Gülen movement via payphones to avoid being tracked. The detention orders targeted former military members dismissed from the service by executive decrees, military members who retired or had resigned and nine active duty servicemen.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, a religious group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, of masterminding a coup attempt in July 2016 and labels it a terrorist organization. The movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The detention order is part of a massive crackdown. Turkish authorities ordered the detention of 42 former military cadets for using payphones on August 20. The detention of 47 military personnel including 34 active duty officers was ordered on August 18. Four days earlier the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office had ordered the detention of 141 people on the same accusation.

Following the coup attempt the Turkish government dismissed some 150,000 public servants from state jobs and investigated almost 600,000 people, detaining or arresting half of them on trumped-up terrorism charges.

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 the Gülen movement.

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