Turkey orders arrest of 103 soldiers in coup probe

President Recep Erdogan
Turkish President, Recep Erdogan Facts on Turkey

Turkish prosecutors have ordered the detention of 103 soldiers, state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Friday.

The detainees were suspected of having links to the U.S.-based Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating a failed coup in mid-2016.

Police have carried out regular sweeps against alleged supporters of the preacher Fethullah Gulen since the coup attempt of July 2016, in which 250 people were killed.

Mr Gulen denies involvement in the attempted coup.

In the latest operation in Istanbul and 31 other provinces, police have so far detained 74 people, Anadolu said.

The 103 suspects, all on active service, included colonels and lieutenant colonels, it said, adding that an investigation had shown they had communicated over fixed-line and pay telephones.

Authorities say members of the alleged Gulen network communicated via payphones.

Turkey’s Western allies have criticised the crackdown, which mostly took place under a state of emergency declared shortly after the coup attempt and remained in effect until July 2018.

Mr Erdogan’s critics accused him of using the failed putsch as a pretext to quash dissent.

Turkey says the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.

The attempt was carried out by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces that organised themselves as the Peace at Home Council.

They attempted to seize control of several key places in Ankara, Istanbul, and elsewhere, but failed to do so after forces loyal to the state defeated them.

The government accused the coup leaders of being linked to the Gülen movement, which is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey.

Mr Gülen has suggested the coup was in fact a “self-coup” carried out by Mr Erdoğan to consolidate his grip on power, a wild conspiracy theory shared among some analysts and some Turks unsupported by events or established facts.

Many government buildings, including the Turkish Parliament and the Presidential Palace, were bombed from the air.

Mass arrests followed, with at least 40,000 detained, including at least 10,000 soldiers and, for reasons that remain unclear, 2,745 judges.

15,000 education staff were also suspended and the licenses of 21,000 teachers working at private institutions were revoked as well after the government alleged they were loyal to Gülen.

More than 77,000 people have been arrested and over 160,000 fired from their jobs, on accusations of connections to Gülen.

(Reuters/NAN)


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