Turkey has arrested 81 suspects said to be linked to the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara accuses masterminding the unsuccessful 2016 coup attempt, in which over 250 people were killed.
Simultaneous operations were carried out in the early hours of Friday, leading to the arrests of 14 suspects, while 67 others were detained in 37 provinces, security sources said on condition of anonymity, according to state-owned Anadolu agency.
Prosecutors in the capital had issued arrest warrants for 125 suspects alleged to be members of what Ankara calls the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), including 29 people who had been fired or suspended from the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
The remaining suspects are said to be 18 non-commissioned officers and 78 students dismissed from military schools. Efforts are said to be ongoing to catch the remaining people wanted by authorities.
According to the outlet, the accused had contacts with the organization and had been using an encrypted messaging app, ByLock, which authorities believe was used to coordinate the coup bid.
Friday’s arrests, part of a chain of crackdowns over recent years, come after 97 alleged suspects were detained earlier this week after investigations were carried out by the Izmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
FETO, allegedly led by the Muslim preacher, who has lived in the US in self-exile since 1999, has been accused by Ankara of orchestrating the failed botched coup attempt in July 2016. At least 250 people died and over 2,000 were injured as a result of the unsuccessful takeover.
Gulen, once an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has denied any involvement in the uprising.
Some 150,000 civil servants, military staff and others were fired or suspended from their posts following the failed power-grab, and 80,000 people were detained pending trial.
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