Turkish police on Friday detained 46 people as part of an operation targeting alleged followers of the Gülen movement in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The detentions were ordered by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 86 people including 13 active duty and 22 former military officers as well as 36 former military cadets. Forty-six of the suspects were detained in simultaneous raids across 25 provinces.
The suspects are accused of communicating with alleged members of the Gülen movement via payphones to avoid detection.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members, and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
The so-called “payphone investigations” are based on call records. The prosecutors assume that a member of the Gülen movement used the same payphone to call all his contacts consecutively. Based on that assumption, when an alleged member of the movement is found in call records, it is assumed that other numbers called right before or after that call also belong to people with Gülen links. Receiving calls from a payphone periodically is also considered a red flag.