Turkish police teams on Thursday detained 33 individuals in an operation based in the western province of İzmir against alleged followers of the Gülen movement, the Aktif Haber news website reported.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
The detentions took place after police teams raided 30 locations in Manisa, Ankara and Ordu provinces as well as in İzmir as part of an investigation overseen by the İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight as a result of which more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 50,000 others were jailed, and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.
In the meantime, 50 former judges and prosecutors who took part in the Sledgehammer [Balyoz] coup trials have been indicted on terrorism charges due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.
Sledgehammer was an alleged coup plot against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) drafted in 2003. The military is claimed to have planned drastic measures to foment unrest in the country in order to remove the AKP from power.
An İstanbul court sentenced 331 of the 365 Sledgehammer suspects to prison on Sept. 21, 2012, while 34 were acquitted. Three retired generals were sentenced to life in prison on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government by force,” but the sentences were later reduced to 20 years because of the “incomplete attempt at staging a coup,” the court said.
Turkey’s Constitutional Court handed down a ruling in June 2014 stating that the rights of a majority of the convicted defendants in the Sledgehammer coup plot case were violated concerning “digital data and the defendants’ testimonies.”
The AKP defended judicial action against the Sledgehammer suspects at the time.