Turkish court arrests 132 military officers over alleged links to Gülen movement

One hundred thirty-two out of 221 military officers who were detained by Turkish police across Turkey in an İstanbul-based probe were arrested by a Turkish court on Wednesday and put in pretrial detention as part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants on July 6, 2018 for 271 military officers, including 122 on active duty, as part of a probe into alleged members of the Gülen movement. Police launched operations in 47 provinces to detain those being sought, accused of secretly communicating with members of the Gülen movement by pay phone.

One hundred twenty of those sought were military cadets before a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The officers include a lieutenant general and 29 military officers who were dismissed from the military by government decrees under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of the coup bid.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, 13 active duty soldiers in Mardin, two in Elazığ, one in Samsun and a former police chief in Karaman provinces were arrested over alleged links to the Gülen movement, according to a report by online news outlet Gazete Duvar. Five active duty soldiers were also detained by local police in Balıkesir.

The Elazığ Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 19 active duty soldiers on accusations of secretly communicating with members of the Gülen movement by pay phone. Seventeen of them were released on probation, while two were arrested.

In Mardin the prosecutor’s office issued detention warrants for 22 military personnel. Four of them were released after a brief detention by police and five were released after a court hearing, while 13 were put in pretrial detention.

Karaman Chief of Police Sadık Keskin was recently dismissed from his job for alleged membership in the Gülen movement before a detention warrant was issued for him.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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