Turkish prosecutors have ordered the detention of about 100 soldiers over suspected links to the network of a United States-based Muslim religious leader and businessman, Fethullah Gulen, who has been accused of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016, state-owned Anadolu Agency said.
The detentions are the result of investigations into pay phone communications between alleged members of Gulen’s network, Anadolu said, adding that they were in the process of being carried out.
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Police have conducted a steady stream of raids against Gulen’s alleged supporters since the July 2016 coup attempt, in which hundreds of people were killed. Gulen denies involvement in the attempt.
More than 77,000 people have been jailed, pending trial, while 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs as part of the post-coup purges. Widespread operations are still routine.
Human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concerns over the scale of the crackdown, saying the Turkish government used the failed coup as a pretext to suppress dissent.
The government, however, defended its measures, calling them necessary for Turkey‘s security.
Turkey has sought Gulen’s arrest since 2014, but efforts to have him returned from the US, where he lives in a sprawling compound in Pennsylvania, have floundered.
US says Turkey has not provided sufficient proof against Gulen, who lives in a self-imposed exile in the US since 1999.
A team of US officials visited Ankara last week reportedly to discuss the Gulen issue. US National Security Adviser John Bolton is also due to visit Ankara later on Monday.
Prior to the failed putsch, Gulen’s movement allegedly placed supporters within the Turkish state apparatus, particularly the judiciary and police, to attack its opponents.