Turkey Targets Ex-Airforce Staff over Alleged Coup Links
Turkish police on Friday arrested dozens of military personnel in another round of nationwide raids against people with alleged links to the group blamed for the 2016 failed coup, state media reported.
Forty-one suspects had been detained by late Friday morning, according to state news agency Anadolu, after the Ankara public prosecutor ordered arrest warrants for 87 former non-commissioned officers in the Turkish airforce.
The police operations were launched in 16 provinces across the country including Ankara, Istanbul and the Aegean city of Izmir.
Turkish authorities have detained more than 50,000 people over the last two years as part of an investigation into followers of U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, while nearly 130,000 public sector workers have been dismissed from their jobs.
In a separate series of raids, 40 police in Istanbul were detained after the public prosecutor issued 41 arrest warrants over alleged links to Gulen.
Ankara accuses Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, of ordering the failed overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Gulen strongly denies the claims.
The latest detentions come after Turkish police detained nearly 140 people across the country on Tuesday over suspected links to Gulen after nearly 300 arrest warrants had been issued by different prosecutors.
Turkey refers to the movement as the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation” but the group insists it is a peaceful organisation, promoting Islam and secular education.
Since the attempted putsch, the widespread arrests have led to criticism from activists and Ankara’s Western allies.
But Turkish officials stress the operations are needed to remove the “virus” that is the Gulen movement’s infiltration of key Turkish institutions.