Turkish gov’t seeks to detain 458 military officers over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is looking for 458 military officers, including six generals and admirals, over their alleged role in a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 or for alleged links to the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency (AA) on Tuesday, 458 military officers are still at large despite efforts to apprehend them as part of investigations launched by Turkish prosecutors just after the controversial coup bid in 2016.

The report said the highest ranking military officer among them is Rear Adm. Mustafa Zeki Uğurlu, who was stationed at NATO headquarters when the coup attempt took place. The AA report said 220 military officers from the Turkish Land Forces, 140 from the Turkish Naval Forces and 98 officers from Turkish Air Forces are still fugitives.

The Turkish government has dismissed more than 6,000 officers and noncommissioned officers from the military over alleged links to the Gülen movement, part of 18,632 public employees who were purged from their posts by a government decree announced on Sunday under a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to the Official Gazette (Resmi Gazete) published on Sunday.

According to the Resmi Gazete, 3,077 military personnel from the Land Forces Command, 1,126 from the Naval Forces Command, 1,949 from the Air Forces Command and 649 from the Gendarmerie General Command were ousted from the military.

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 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.

The ruling AKP government dismissed 24,977 military members immediately after the coup bid including 150 generals, 4,630 officers, 2,167 noncommissioned officers, 1,210 specialized sergeants, 411 civil servants and workers, and 16,409 cadets following the failed coup over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli on April 18, 2018 said the government had identified 3,000 active duty military officers suspected of links to the Gülen movement and that they would be dismissed with a government decree in the coming days.

Official statements claim that 8,651 military members including cadets and privates took part in the failed coup.

Director General of Public Security Selami Altınok on Dec. 12, 2017 said 22,987 police officers had been dismissed over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

“If it was a coup perpetrated by the Gülen movement and 25,000 military personnel and 22,987 police officers were dismissed for their connections to the movement, why did only 8,651 military members including cadets and privates participate in the coup?” is a question being asked by critics.

The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, last year said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup in July.

Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview with Fox News in March 2017 that he had not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the putsch in Turkey.

In addition, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) in January 2017 revealed that the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. 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. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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