Turkish prosecutor orders detention of 238 military officers over alleged Gülen links

Turkish authorities have ordered the detention of a total of 238 active-duty and former military officers due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

As part of the investigation overseen by the İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, police teams simultaneously raided locations across 60 provinces on Tuesday to detain suspects including 133 officers from the Army, 65 from the Gendarmerie Forces Command and 40 from the Air Forces Command. Six of the suspects are colonels, three of them lieutenant colonels and nine are majors.

They are accused of communicating with members of the Gülen movement, a faith based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, using payphones in order to avoid being tracked.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen 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 and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Following the failed coup, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 20,610 members of the armed forces were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

A total of 292,000 people have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup, according to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on November 26. There are currently 25,655 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed due to links to the faith-based movement, the minister said.

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