Detention warrants issued for more than 100 soldiers over Gülen links

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ISPARTA, TURKEY - OCTOBER 12 : President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) views soldiers parading during the badge ceremony of specialized sergeant commando trainees at Counter Terrorism School and Training Center Command in Isparta, Turkey on October 12, 2018. AFP PHOTOS

Turkey ordered the detention of more than 100 soldiers and former cadets over suspected links to the network of the US-based Muslim cleric who is accused of orchestrating a 2016 attempted coup, prosecutors and state media said on Friday, Reuters reported.

Police operations targeting supporters of cleric Fethullah Gülen have been carried out regularly since the failed coup and have recently gained momentum. Gülen denies involvement in the attempt, in which 249 people were killed.

The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s office said it ordered the detention of 50 suspects — six of them officers and the rest military academy students expelled after the coup — in an investigation into people linked to Gülen in the military.

This operation, spread across 16 provinces, was focused on calls made over fixed phone lines, the statement said.

In southern Adana province, prosecutors ordered another 52 soldiers detained, 42 of them serving, in an operation across 20 provinces, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

It said colonels, majors, lieutenants and other serving officers were facing detention over pay phone calls they made to other alleged Gülen-linked people. Many suspects have already been detained, it added.

More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs as part of the post-coup purges. Widespread operations are still routine.

Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concerns over the crackdown, saying President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has used the abortive coup as a pretext to quash dissent. The government has said the security measures were necessary due to the gravity of the threat Turkey faces.

The owner of a restaurant chain who had been on the run for a year after an arrest warrant was issued for him on suspected links to Gülen was detained in the Aegean coastal province of İzmir, Anadolu also reported on Friday.

Murat Sivrikaya, whose restaurant chain has 1,100 locations across Turkey, was found carrying fake identification and is accused of being a local administrator of Gülen’s network, the agency said.

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