Turkish authorities order detention of 65 military personnel over Gülen links

Arrested officer

Turkish authorities on June 24 ordered the detention of 65 military personnel as part of a massive crackdown targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Forty-one of the military members have been taken into custody in 23 provinces across Turkey based on detention warrants issued by the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The suspects are accused of communicating with alleged members of the Gülen movement, led by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, with pre-paid phone cards. The names of some of the suspects were obtained from the confessions of other suspects who benefitted from the repentance law in return for accusing others.

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, an accusation strongly denied by the cleric.

As part of the crackdown Erdoğan dismissed some 150,000 civil servants including teachers, doctors, academics and police officers as well as lawyers, journalists and members of the military by emergency decree-laws, locking up hundreds of thousands of them and seizing their assets.

According to the Defense Ministry, a total of 19,495 military personnel have been purged from the Turkish Armed Forces since the failed 2016 coup over their alleged ties to the movement.

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