ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish prosecutors investigating the military and justice ministry on Tuesday ordered the arrest of 228 people over suspected links to the network that Ankara says was behind a 2016 coup attempt, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
There has been a sustained crackdown on alleged followers of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen since the failed putsch in July 2016, in which some 250 people were killed. Police still routinely carry out raids targeting suspects.
In the latest moves, prosecutors ordered the arrest of 157 people, including 101 serving officers, in an investigation of the Turkish Armed Forces, Anadolu said. It said the operation was based in the western province of Izmir and stretched across 43 provinces.
Separately, prosecutors in the capital Ankara ordered the detention of 71 people in an investigation targeting alleged Gulen supporters in the justice ministry, 33 of them currently working in the ministry, Anadolu said.
Since the attempted coup, around 80,000 people have been jailed pending trial and some 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others sacked or suspended from their jobs.
Turkey’s Western allies and rights groups have criticized the scale of the crackdown, while Ankara has defended the measures as a necessary response to the security threat.
Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has denied any involvement in the attempted coup.
Reporting by Daren Butler; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore
Image: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he addresses the members of his ruling party, in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019 (Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)