Turkey orders arrest of 128 military personnel over suspected Gulen links

Daily News Egypt
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Turkish solders stay with weapons at Taksim square as people protest agaist the military coup in Istanbul on July 16, 2016. Turkish military forces on July 16 opened fire on crowds gathered in Istanbul following a coup attempt, causing casualties, an AFP photographer said. The soldiers opened fire on grounds around the first bridge across the Bosphorus dividing Europe and Asia, said the photographer, who saw wounded people being taken to ambulances. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

Turkey ordered the arrest of 128 military personnel over suspected links to the network accused by Ankara of orchestrating an attempted coup in 2016, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday.

Police were looking for just over half of the suspects in the western coastal province of Izmir and the rest across 30 other provinces, Anadolu said.

They were suspected of being supporters of United States-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Turkish authorities of masterminding the failed coup three years ago.

However, Gulen has denied any role.

When a failed coup attempt took place, the Turkish government claimed supporters within the military of the exiled Muslim cleric were behind it.

President Erdogan labelled the Gulen movement as a terrorist organisation and declared a three-month state of emergency, in order to actively prosecute its members.

The state of emergency allowed the government to rule by decree. It, in turn, used the decrees as a means to establish new rules in all of the country’s state institutions.

The resulting wave of firings and arrests prompted opposition members to deem the state of emergency as a “civil coup and a witch hunt against critics,” calling for its immediate lifting, but to no avail.

More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while about 150,000 people from the civil service, military, and elsewhere, have been sacked or suspended from their jobs under crackdowns since the attempted coup.

Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have criticised the scope of the crackdown, saying Erdogan has used the abortive coup as a pretext to quash dissent.

However, the government said the security measures are necessary due to the gravity of the threat Turkey faces, and has thus vowed to eradicate Gulen’s network in the country.

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