Turkish prosecutors have over the past week ordered the detention of 149 people on terrorism charges due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, local media reported.
On Monday the İstanbul and Kars public prosecutors issued detention warrants for 51 suspects, including active duty officers, noncommissioned officers and former military cadets.
On Tuesday prosecutors in Ankara issued detention warrants for 37, including officers and former military cadets, on accusations of secretly communicating with their contacts within the Gülen movement via payphones.
An additional 32 detention warrants were issued in Kayseri, Samsun, Edirne, Bursa and Manisa provinces on Wednesday.
On Friday detention warrants were issued for 29 individuals by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and 24 were detained for alleged links to the Gülen movement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, 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. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch that he accused Gülen of masterminding.
The so-called “payphone investigations” are based on call records. The prosecutors assume that a member of the Gülen movement used the same payphone to call all his contacts consecutively. Based on that assumption, when an alleged member of the movement is found in call records, it is assumed that other numbers called right before or after that call also belong to people with Gülen links. Receiving calls from a payphone periodically is also considered a red flag.
Following the abortive putsch, 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 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 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Nov. 22.
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.