Turkey’s official news agency (AA) on said on December 7th that police sources had confirmed the arrest of at least forty-one former Turkish Air Force personnel early that day in a probe into the Gulen movement, a group it accuses of orchestrating the 2016 abortive coup against the government. All those detained were arrested by security authorities in the capital, Ankara. Police sources, speaking to AA under condition of anonymity, said the 41 are suspected of being a part of a group of 87 Gulen-linked former air force sergeants wanted by Ankara prosecutors. Security authorities in Turkey face stringent restrictions on speaking to the media.
Istanbul prosecutors issued arrest warrants for a different group of 41 active-duty soldiers, including a major, two captains, five first lieutenants, and two lieutenants at the Istanbul gendarmerie for their alleged links to Gulenists. Ankara considers the Gulen movements and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen a terrorist group seeking to end President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rule.
Since the coup attempt, Erdogan has ordered a sweeping crackdown on dissent, which saw the arrest of thousands of government employees, members of the armed forces, journalists and civilians. After nearly two years since the aborted putsch, Turkey’s Western allies have voiced deep concerns about the ongoing nationwide purge.