Sep 24 2018

Turkey orders more detentions as crackdown continues

Turkish authorities have ordered the arrest of 61 members of the armed forces, some of them high ranking, suspected of having connections to the banned Gülen movement, Reuters said on Monday.

Those whose detentions were ordered include 13 army majors and 12 army captains, along with 24 first lieutenants serving in the navy. Eighteen of the 61 are reported to be on active duty.

In a separate operation, police in Istanbul detained 21 individuals on the grounds that they were using an encrypted messaging system that authorities say is associated with the Gülen movement.

Since a failed coup attempt in July 2016, widely suspected of being organised by the Gülen network, Turkish authorities have imprisoned thousands they suspect of being members of the group, including many members of the armed forces. Many more have lost their jobs for similar reasons, whilst assets worth billions of dollars have been seized from businesses connected to the movement.

The Turkish government says the crackdown is necessary to root out the banned group, whose leader Fethullah Gülen lives in the United States, and to eradicate its once considerable influence in Turkey. Critics argue that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has used the failed coup attempt as a pretext to quash all kinds of dissent, pointing to the flimsy nature of the evidence offered in support of many of accusations.