Turkish authorities on Tuesday ordered the detention of 40 military personnel as part of a massive crackdown targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Thirty-four of the military members have been taken into custody in 12 provinces across Turkey based on the 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, using payphones. 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. 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 six active and former members of the Turkish Armed Forces were detained in another operation against alleged members of the Gülen movement in the Central Anatolian city of Konya.
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.