Thirty-five gendarmerie officers were detained on Monday as part of an ongoing witch-hunt targeting people linked with the faith-based Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, the T24 news website has reported.
According to the report, 16 officers and 19 noncommissioned officers have been detained in operations in 20 provinces as part of an investigation launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık said in March that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government had dismissed a total of 22,920 military personnel (6,511 officers and 16,409 cadets) after the coup attempt on July 15.
The government is at the center of criticism over dismissing 22,920 military personnel due to their ties to the Gülen movement, despite the fact that the Turkish military stated on July 27 that only 8,651 military members including cadets and conscripts took part in the failed coup.
The military coup attempt on July 15 killed over 240 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the AKP government along with President Recep Tayyip 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.
According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt.
Contrary to accusations made by President Erdoğan and the Turkish government, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament concluded in March that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind the failed coup in Turkey.
The UK Parliament statement came a week after Germany rejected Erdoğan and the Turkish government’s accusations against the Gülen movement about July 15.
The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, 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 he has 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) revealed that the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge.
In February, Henri Barkey, director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center, said that many generals purged by the Turkish government are pro-NATO and pro-American, saying this could create a shift in Turkey-NATO relations.