Turkey to arrest 101 soldiers over alleged links to coup attempt

Operation targets air force members over suspected links to religious leader Gulen, who is blamed for 2016 failed coup.

Turkish prosecutors ordered the detention of 140 people including serving army officers over alleged links to the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen. [File: Anadolu Agency]
Turkish government says Gulen's followers have been running 'a parallel state' within the civilian and military bureaucracy [File: Anadolu]

Turkish prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 101 members of the air force, including one general and several colonels, over suspected links to the organisation of a religious leader blamed for the 2016 coup attempt, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Thirty-three military personnel were taken into custody on Thursday, the Hurriyet daily said, adding that the investigation launched by prosecutors in Ankara spread across 21 other provinces.  

Ankara blames the movement of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based self-exiled religious leader, for the attempt to take over the government. He denies any involvement.

Turkey has been under a state of emergency since July 2016 after about 300 people were killed during the failed coup. 

Turkey has detained 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number from civil service jobs since the attempt, the UN human rights office said in March. Of that number, more than 50,000 have been formally charged and kept in jail during trial.

‘Parallel state’

The Turkish government says the movement’s members have been running “a parallel state” within the civilian and military bureaucracy and following their own agenda. Gulen denies the claims.

Western governments and rights groups have repeatedly condemned the government’s detentions and purges after the failed coup, saying Turkey used the attempt as a pretext to repress dissidents. 

The Turkish government says the crackdown follows the rule of law and aims to remove coup supporters from state institutions and other parts of society.

Source: Al Jazeera