Turkish authorities on Tuesday ordered the detention of 141 people, including active duty military personnel, as part of a massive crackdown on the faith-based Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Thirty people have been taken into custody in 16 provinces based on 62 detention warrants issued by the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office as part of an operation that targets alleged members of the Gülen movement in the Turkish navy.
The public prosecutor’s office in the western city of İzmir issued detention warrants for 54 noncommissioned officers. A total of 41 people, including 30 active duty personnel, were detained in 40 provinces based on the warrants.
In Ankara 25 detention warrants were issued by the public prosecutor’s office as part of an operation targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement in the Turkish air force. Eighteen of the suspects were detained.
The suspects are accused of communicating with alleged members of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, using payphones in order to avoid being tracked.
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. Gülen strongly denies involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity. Following the allegations, Gülen called on the Turkish government to allow for an international investigation.
Last week a total of 34 active duty and former members of the Turkish Armed Forces were detained in another operation against alleged members of the Gülen movement.
As part of the crackdown Erdoğan dismissed some 150,000 public servants including members of the armed forces, police officers, teachers, doctors and academics by emergency decree-laws, locking up hundreds of thousands of them and seizing their assets.
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 movement.