Turkish prosecutors have issued detention warrants for 54 former and active duty officers over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a coup attempt in 2016, according to Turkish media reports.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of orchestrating the failed coup 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 detention warrants were issued by the Balıkesir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, and simultaneous raids were being conducted on Monday morning across 38 provinces to detain the suspects as part of the investigation.
Among the 54 being sought are 16 officers who were discharged in the aftermath of the coup attempt, 36 active duty and two retired officers. They are accused of secretly communicating via pay phone, a method Turkish prosecutors believe was a means of communicating with the Gülen movement to avoid detection.
Following the coup attempt the Turkish government removed more than 130,000 civil servants, including some 4,000 judges and prosecutors, from their jobs due to alleged Gülen links.
Since the coup attempt, followers of the Gülen movement have been subjected to a massive crackdown, with the Turkish government and pro-government media outlets demonizing its members.
According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in November 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. The minister said there were 25,655 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed due to links to the Gülen movement.
In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.