ISTANBUL (Reuters) — Turkey issued detention warrants for 118 people, mostly members of the military and security forces, suspected of links to the network that Ankara says was behind a 2016 coup attempt, the Istanbul prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.
Authorities have carried out a sustained crackdown on alleged followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen since the failed coup in July 2016, when 250 people were killed. Police still routinely carry out raids on suspects.
Gulen, a former ally of President Tayyip Erdogan, has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. He denies any involvement in the attempted coup.
The prosecutor’s office said it issued detention warrants for 42 military and gendarmerie personnel as a result of statements by previously detained people and analyses of pay phone calls. Among them were 24 officers on active duty.
It said it had requested the detention of 76 military, gendarmarie personnel and civilians in a separate operation after determining they had used pay phones to contact members of the network. Seventy-four of those were on active duty.
The detention orders included members of the land, air and marine forces, as well as one colonel and three lieutenants.
Erdogan has for years accused Gulen’s supporters of establishing a “parallel state” by infiltrating the police, judiciary, military and other state institutions.
Since the coup attempt, about 80,000 people have been jailed pending trial and some 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others sacked or suspended from their jobs.
Turkey’s Western allies including the European Union as well as rights groups have criticized the scale of the crackdown, while Ankara has defended the measures as a necessary response to the security threat.
Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Daren Butler, William Maclean
Image: US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, US July 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Charles Mostoller/File Photo)