Turkish gov’t issues detention warrants for 101 Air Force officers over alleged Gülen links

The Turkish government issued detention warrants for 101 military officers on Thursday and has so far detained 37 of them as part of its massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 101 Turkish military personnel at the Air Force Command, including one brigadier general and several colonels, over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Turkish online news outlet TR724 has reported that among the officers being sought are a brigadier general, five colonels, two lieutenant colonels, four majors, 24 captains and 54 lieutenants.

Seventy-eight of the military members had previously been suspended from duty, while 23 others were dismissed over alleged links to the movement.

The 37 detained officers were apprehended in nationwide operations spanning 22 provinces.

Also on Thursday, a total of 46 military officers were arrested by an İstanbul High Criminal Court and sent them to jail over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Police detained 211 military officers, including serving colonels and lieutenant colonel after public prosecutors in İstanbul issued warrants for 300 military officers on May 11 as part of Turkish government’s post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the movement.

Moreover on Thursday, the İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court handed down aggravated life sentences to 22 officers over their alleged links to the Gülen movement and their alleged involvement in a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Fourteen of the sentences were reduced to life in prison for good behaviour.

They were all accused of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order. The court also ruled for 10 year-plus sentences for four other defendants on charges of alleged membership in the Gülen movement.

On Wednesday, at least 44 people were detained across Turkey over alleged links to Gülen movement. In western Manisa province, the detentions came after the chief public prosecutor’s office issued warrants for eight people. They were accused of membership in the Gülen movement and using the ByLock mobile phone messaging application.

Meanwhile 14 people were detained in Bolu, İstanbul, Ankara and Eskişehir provinces on similar accusations while in southern Antalya province, 22 people were detained for alleged use of ByLock.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among the alleged followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and even housewives, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

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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