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Land forces officers among 24 detained over alleged Gülen links

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Turkish police on Tuesday detained 24 people, most of whom are active duty military officers from the Land Forces Command, in operations across 10 provinces due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The Gülen movement is accused by the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and is labeled a “terrorist organization,” although the movement denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The detentions took place as part of an investigation overseen by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The detainees comprise an active duty colonel, four majors, two captains, three lieutenants, two noncommissioned officers, one retired colonel, one purged captain, one purged non-commissioned officer, three purged lieutenants, one purged military cadet, one teacher, one forensic medicine expert and three civilians.

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 the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in November, a total of 5,587 officers have been purged from the military since the coup attempt, while 1,512 retired officers have been stripped of their rank in the same period.

The Turkish government also removed more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs on alleged Gülen links following the coup attempt.

Meanwhile, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on February 20 that a total of 622,646 people have been the subject of investigation and 301,932 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 are currently 25,467 people in Turkey’s prisons who were jailed on alleged 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.

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