Turkey orders detention of 210 military personnel over links to Gulen

ISTANBUL/WASHINGTON, April 27 (INP): Istanbul prosecutors ordered the detention of 210 military personnel over suspected links to the network blamed by Ankara for orchestrating a failed 2016 military coup, the Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office said.

It said the suspects from the air, marine and land forces, as well as the gendarmerie and coast guard, included five colonels, seven lieutenant colonels, 14 majors, and 33 captains.

They were suspected of being supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Turkish authorities of masterminding the failed putsch three years ago. Gulen has denied any role.

More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial since the coup and widespread arrests are still routine. Authorities have suspended or sacked 150,000 civil servants and military personnel.

The prosecutor’s office said it believed the number of Gulen supporters who remained unidentified within the military was greater than those who took part in the coup attempt, and the network still posed the greatest threat to Turkey’s constitutional order.

Separately, state-owned Anadolu agency reported that the Ankara chief prosecutor ordered the detention of 41 people believed to be members of the network. They were suspected of obtaining the questions to a police school exam in 2009, to help their members join the force.

Turkey has indicted a third US consulate employee and his wife and daughter on charges of membership of a terrorist group, according to a copy of the indictment, a move likely to further strain ties between Ankara and Washington.

Nazmi Mete Canturk, a security officer at the US consulate in Istanbul, and his wife and daughter are accused in the indictment of links to the network of Fethullah Gulen.

A Turkish prosecutor is seeking jail sentences for all three on charges of membership of an armed terrorist organisation, according to the indictment, which was completed on March 8 but has not been made public.

INP/AJ/LK