Turkey Orders Arrest of More Than 400 People in Further Crackdown on Alleged Coup Organizers

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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives to deliver a speech at an event in Ankara, Turkey, December 30, 2019.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives to deliver a speech at an event in Ankara, Turkey, December 30, 2019.Credit: ,AP

Turkish authorities have ordered the detention of 414 people, mainly military personnel, over suspected links to the network that Ankara says orchestrated a failed coup in 2016, police, security sources and state media said on Tuesday.

Authorities have carried out a sustained crackdown on alleged followers of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen since the coup attempt in July 2016, when 250 people were killed.

Gulen denies any involvement. The former ally of President Tayyip Erdogan has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999.

Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, United States, March 15, 2014.Credit: Selahattin Sevi / AP/ סלהטי

One police operation to detain 191 suspects was coordinated from the western city of Izmir and targeted people in 22 provinces, state-owned Anadolu news agency said. The police have already detained 160 of the suspects, it said.

The suspects, mostly on active duty, were believed to have communicated to other Gulen followers through pay phones and to have received advantages in admission to military schools, Anadolu said.

In a separate operation, police detained 16 military personnel the southeastern city Diyarbakir over the weekend, security sources said. On Tuesday, a local court jailed six of them pending trial and freed 10 others, the sources added.

Istanbul police said prosecutors had ordered the detention of 44 military personnel, including a major and three lieutenants, as well as doctors and teachers. It said 33 people had already been detained in the operation spread over eight provinces.

Anadolu said police had also detained 25 out of 32 suspects from the air forces as part of another operation. It said detention warrants were issued for eight people in the gendarmerie forces, including a colonel.

Turkey's Western allies have criticised the scale of the crackdown, while Ankara has defended the measures as a necessary response to the security threat.

People protest outside Ankara University after Turkey's government sacked nearly 4,500 more state employees during a purge linked to a failed military coup, February 8, 2017.Credit: ,AP

Erdogan has for years accused Gulen's supporters of establishing a "parallel state" by infiltrating the police, judiciary, military and other state institutions.

Since the coup attempt, about 80,000 people have been held pending trial and some 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others sacked or suspended.

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