Turkey mounts yet another large purge of armed forces

Suspects were said to be involved in “intra-organisational communication” via pay phones or fixed lines. Prosecutors had also been able to identify them thanks to confessions from people already held.
Monday 26/04/2021
Turkish police officers stand guard at the entrance of the Sincan Penal Institution at the 4th Heavy Penal Court near Ankara. (AFP)
Turkish police officers stand guard at the entrance of the Sincan Penal Institution at the 4th Heavy Penal Court near Ankara. (AFP)

ISTANBUL - Turkish prosecutors ordered the arrest of 532 suspects including 459 serving military personnel in an operation targeting people linked to a Muslim cleric who Ankara says was behind a 2016 attempted coup, state-owned Anadolu news agency said on Monday.

The investigation was being conducted in 62 provinces, as well as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, as part of a sustained crackdown against the network of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen. More than 250 people were killed in the failed putsch in July 2016. Gulen denies any involvement.

In Istanbul prosecutors ordered the arrest of 258 suspects, with the serving military personnel including four colonels, one lieutenant colonel, nine majors and 24 captains, Anadolu said. In the western Turkish city of Izmir prosecutors sought the detention of 274 people, also mostly serving military.

As of Monday, it was reported that 200 of the indicted individuals had been detained. According to the Turkish daily Sabah, those sought come from all branches of the military including the gendarmerie, general command, the army, air force and the navy as well as coast guard . Also indicted is a number of members of the Defence Ministry.

Forty-two among those wanted were former military cadets who were expelled from the army following the coup attempt.

Suspects were said to be involved in “intra-organisational communication” via pay phones or fixed lines, said Sabah, adding that the prosecutors had also been able to identify them thanks to confessions from people already held.

In the wake of the coup attempt, about 80,000 people were held pending trial and some 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others were sacked or suspended. More than 20,000 people have been expelled from the Turkish military.