Top police chief says 22,987 police officers dismissed over Gülen links

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Selami Alıinok (Okan Ozer / Anadolu Agency)

Director General of Public Security Selami Altınok on Tuesday said 22,987 police officers in Turkey have been dismissed over alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, Sputnik reported.

“A total of 22,987 police who were identified as having links to Feto [a derogatory term coined by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to the Gülen movement] following 17-25 plot [Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption investigation] were dismissed. The ranks and related rights of 1,393 police officers who resigned or retired were also revoked,” said Altınok during a security seminar in İstanbul.

“The case of 12,036 police officers who were suspended are under investigation,” added Altınok.

A major corruption investigation in Turkey became public in Dec. 17-25, 2013 and implicated the inner circle of the ruling AKP government and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. After Erdoğan cast the case as a coup attempt to overthrow his government orchestrated by his political enemies, several prosecutors were removed from the case, police were reassigned and the investigation into the prime suspect, Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab who was indicted last year in New York for evading US sanctions against Iran, was dropped.

Edoğan and his government launched an all-out war against the Gülen movement following the corruption operations of December 2013.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government of mounting a failed coup attempt in July 2016, but the movement strongly denies any involvement.

Following the failed coup Erdoğan and his government launched an unprecedented purge and witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement and other opponents.

Thousands of military members have been purged and detained as part of a witch-hunt targeting the movement since the coup attempt.

One hundred thirty generals and admirals in the Turkish military were either dismissed or suspended as part of the widespread purge following the failed coup attempt in July of last year.

The government has been at the center of criticism for turning the Turkish forces into a political Islamist military in line with the wishes of President Erdoğan.

Defense Minister Fikri Işık announced in March that the ruling AKP government had dismissed a total of 22,920 military personnel (6,511 officers and 16,409 cadets) after the coup attempt although the Turkish military stated on July 27 that only 8,651 military members including cadets and conscripts took part in the failed coup.

The Cumhuriyet daily reported in March that the government planned to investigate 90,000 more military personnel over links to the Gülen movement.

“If it was a coup perpetrated by the Gülen movement and 22,920 military personnel were dismissed for their connections to the movement as Erdoğan and the government assert, why did only 8,651 military members participate in the coup?” is a question being asked by critics.

Amid an ongoing witch-hunt targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Tuesday said 55,665 people have been jailed and 234,000 passports have been cancelled.

Soylu on Nov. 16 said eight holdings and 1,020 companies seized as part of operations into the movement.

The Turkish Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup on July 15, 2016.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15 of last year through government decrees issued as part of an ongoing state of emergency.

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