- According to government figures from March, around 500,000 people have been arrested for alleged Gulen connections since the coup attempt.
- After coup attempt Turkey sentenced former top military personnel to life imprisonment.
- Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen has been living in US exile since 1999.
The coup attempt in Turkey is almost three years back and the authorities are still looking for alleged co-conspirators. Dozens of arrests were ordered again in several cities. Now the judiciary has again requested the arrest of dozens of military personnel – allegedly linked to the banned Gulen movement.
The Istanbul Procuratorate said it issued an arrest warrant for 176 active members of the military on suspicion of links to the banned movement of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen. Ankara blames the Gulen movement for the attempted coup.
The Prosecutor’s Office in Izmir targeted 35 suspects for the search, including 20 soldiers in active service, Anadolu State News Agency reported.
In Kocaeli, a northwestern province, 17 suspects were sought including nine former soldiers. In Ankara, the arrest of 32 soldiers was requested, including a colonel and various other officers, as the local prosecutor announced. The reason given in these cases was always alleged links to the network of Gulen.
According to government figures from March, around 500,000 people have been arrested for alleged Gulen connections since the coup attempt – around 30,000 are still to be detained. Last week alone, Anadolu reports said 282 people had been arrested. In the week before, there were 200 people. Civil rights activists accuse President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of suppressing critics.
The government defends the action as a necessary measure to ensure security in the country. Erdogan said in a speech in April that there were more than 4,400 police officers among the current detainees. In total, around 31,000 police officers were removed from office, as well as more than 15,000 members of the military.
A Turkish court sentenced a total of 151 defendants to life imprisonment last month in one of the biggest trials in connection with the coup attempt three years ago. Around 128 defendants were sentenced to life sentences with more stringent prison conditions. Another 23 defendants were thus sentenced to life imprisonment without more stringent prison conditions.
Among the charges were attempted an overthrow of the “constitutional order,” murder and attempted murder. Among those convicted were former Air Force commander Akin Ozturk, Mehmet Disli, a former senior government official’s brother, and Ali Yazici, a former military aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The trial began in May 2017 in the largest courtroom in a prison complex outside the capital of Ankara. In total, 224 suspects were tried, including some 20 former generals.
Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul praised the “exemplary nature” of the Turkish judiciary. “Justice has been done,” he told reporters in Ankara.
In the coup attempt in July 2016, according to the government, nearly 250 people were killed. Since then, nearly 290 trials have been initiated, of which 261 have previously led to 3239 convictions, according to the Department of Justice.
The Turkish government blames the Gulen movement for the July 2016 coup attempt. Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen has been living in US exile since 1999. He denies the allegations. Gulen’s case and twelve other absent defendants were decoupled from the rest of the process by the judge.