Turkey detains 115 soldiers over Gulen ties

Turkey detains 115 soldiers over Gulen ties

ANKARA: Turkish police on Friday detained 115 soldiers suspected of ties to the group blamed for a 2016 coup attempt, state media reported, the latest arrests in a massive crackdown.

The detentions came after the Istanbul public prosecutor issued arrest warrants for 210 active duty soldiers including five colonels, state news agency Anadolu reported.

Officers detained 55 suspects in Istanbul, 60 suspects elsewhere, Anadolu said, without giving details about the remaining individuals.

Those arrested are among tens of thousands of people detained over alleged links to US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen who Ankara blames for orchestrating the 2016 failed coup, which Gulen strongly denies.

Since the attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, police have carried out raids across Turkey with operations almost everyday in recent months.

The Istanbul public prosecutor’s office said the Gulen movement, referred to by Turkish officials as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation,” is the “terrorist group which poses the most danger to the constitutional order”, Anadolu reported.

The movement insists it is a peaceful group promoting education and moderate Islam.

The Ankara public prosecutor’s office earlier on Friday also issued detention warrants for 41 suspects in 13 provinces over alleged links to the Gulen movement.

Turkish authorities say the raids are necessary to remove Gulen’s influence in state institutions but activists and Western allies criticise the magnitude of the crackdown.

As well as the arrests, authorities have sacked or suspended over 140,000 public sector workers including teachers, judges and soldiers.