Detention warrants were issued for 238 active-duty and former military officers due to their alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement and their use of pay phones as a secret means of communication, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday.
As part of the investigation overseen by the İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, police teams simultaneously raided locations across 60 provinces on Tuesday to detain suspects including 133 officers from the Land Forces Command, 65 from the Gendarmerie Forces Command and 40 from the Air Forces Command.
At least 160 of the suspects, who were accused of sending messages via payphone — a method that Turkish prosecutors believe is a secret means of communication among Gülen movement members – were detained as part of the operation carried out by counterterrorism and intelligence officers, Anadolu said.
The detentions were ordered as part of a crackdown targeting followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, inspired by the teachings of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, launched by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of orchestrating an abortive putsch in July 2016 in which more than 250 people were killed, and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although both Gülen and members of his faith-based movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
A total of 292,000 people have been detained, while 96,000 others have been jailed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the failed coup, according to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Nov. 26. There are currently 25,655 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed due to links to the faith-based movement, the minister said.
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, more than 130,000 civil servants have been sacked or suspended, including over 20,000 from the Turkish military, while scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.