Turkey arrests 115 military personnel over ties to Fethullah Gulen

People walk past the courthouse in Istanbul on March 28, 2019, during the trial a US consulate staffer accused of spying and attempting to overthrow the Turkish government. (File photo by AFP)
Turkish police have arrested 115 soldiers over their suspected links to the movement of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for an attempted coup in 2016.

Police arrested 55 of the suspects in Istanbul, the state-run Anadolu news agency said, without saying where the remaining suspects were arrested.

The arrests came after the Istanbul public prosecutor ordered the detention of 210 military personnel suspected of being supporters of Gulen.

The Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office said on Friday that five colonels, seven lieutenant colonels, 14 majors, and 33 captains were among the 210 suspects from the air, naval, and ground forces, as well as the gendarmerie and coast guard.

​This file photo, taken on July 18, 2016, shows Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen looking on at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, the US. (By AFP)
During the botched coup in 2016, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.

Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country’s institutions, particularly the army, police, and the judiciary.

Gulen has denounced the “despicable putsch” and said he had no role in it.

Turkish officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen, but their demands have not been taken heed of.