105 active duty soldiers among 167 sought in post-coup purge

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Turkish prosecutors have issued detention warrants for 167 people, at least 105 of whom are soldiers on active duty, in two separate investigations over alleged links to the Gülen movement, state media outlets reported on Tuesday.

Eighty-nine suspects were detained as part of an investigation out of the western province of Izmir, in which 110 suspects — including 105 active duty military personnel — are being sought, state broadcaster TRT News said. The İzmir Public Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants across 26 provinces as part of an ongoing probe into the Turkish air force and coast guard commands.

The soldiers are accused of being Gülenists, suspected followers of Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Muslim cleric. Ankara considers the group a terrorist organization and accuses it of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016 in which 250 people were killed. Operations targeting the network have become routine since then.

Another 32 out of 57 suspects were detained in an İstanbul-based investigation, again targeting movement members across 15 provinces, the state-run Anadolu (AA) news agency reported.

Police spokesmen were approached by Reuters for comment, but they were not immediately able to provide more detail on the investigations.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had previously said on a TV program that there was no reaction from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, despite the fact that it was detaining soldiers almost every single day.

The latest detentions added to the more than 511,000 people already prosecuted, according to data released by the Interior Ministry.

In the post-coup purge, more than 20,000 military members have been dismissed so far, with in excess of 4,000 of them still under prosecution.

According to statistics from Turkey’s Ministry of Justice, almost 30,000 were behind bars as of the end of 2019.

The AKP government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 and labels the movement a terrorist organization. The group strongly denies the allegations.

Human rights organizations and the Western world have criticized the crackdown by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been allegedly using the coup attempt as a pretext to quash dissent in the country.

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