Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for 360 suspected supporters of cleric Fethullah Gulen in the army, state media reported. Thousands of people have been rounded up in the wake of last year’s coup attempt.
Istanbul police launched an operation on Wednesday to capture 333 more soldiers, most of them on active duty, as well as 27 civilians, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The 360 individuals are suspected of having links to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen. Turkey’s government has claimed the cleric and his network of followers orchestrated last year’s failed coup — allegations Gulen denies.
The state-run news agency reported that the civilian suspects are accused of acting as so-called “secret imams,” who allegedly directed Gulen allies within the military.
More than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial as part of Ankara’s massive post-coup purge. An additional 120,000 people have been fired or suspended from the military, police and bureaucracy for suspected ties to the Gulen movement.
The crackdown has drawn criticism from rights groups and Turkey’s allies in the West, who fear the 2016 coup is being used to justify a campaign to stifle dissent.
Turkey says its actions are necessary to counter the threat posed by Gulen’s network, which it accuses of creating a “parallel state structure” over decades, infiltrating the military, police, judiciary, media and other institutions. Ankara has urged the United States to extradite Gulen so that he can face trial in Turkey.
nm/sms (Reuters, AP)