Turkey orders detention of 243 military staff over terror links

Chief prosecutors in three Turkish provinces have ordered the detention of 243 military personnel in the ongoing investigations of an outlawed religious group accused of carrying out the July 2016 coup attempt, BBC Turkish reported on Tuesday.

The Istanbul chief prosecutor has issued warrants for 176 personnel of differing ranks on active duty in the army, air force, navy and coastguard, while the Izmir prosecutor has ordered 35 suspects detained, 20 of who are on active duty. In Ankara, 32 people on duty in the air force have been ordered detained.

Factions in the Turkish military took control of key points in cities across the country on July 15, 2016, before soldiers forced a news anchor to tell the country control had been taken by a group of officers calling themselves the “Peace at Home Council”.

But Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government survived the coup attempt after thousands of civilians took the streets to oppose the putschists. Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) blames the Gülen movement, a religious group led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, for orchestrating the coup attempt, and has targeted hundreds of thousands of public officials and army personnel in a series of purges since July, 2016.

The 243 personnel have been ordered detained in an investigation into the movement, which is widely believed to have infiltrated state institutions and the military over decades before the coup attempt took place.

The AKP government declared the Gülen movement – known in Turkey as the “Fetthulahist Terrorist Organisation”, or “FETÖ” – a terrorist organisation in 2016, months before the coup attempt took place.

The movement’s leader, Islamist cleric Gülen, denies that his global movement is a criminal organisation and says it had no part in the coup attempt.