Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for 1,112 Gulen Movement suspects in a probe related to a leaked 2010 police exam paper.
Prosecutors issued the warrants on Tuesday, February 12th, over alleged cheating by the suspects before sitting for a sub-inspector test. Since a failed coup attempt in 2016, there has been a nationwide purge in Turkey that has involved the jailing and dismissal of thousands of public sector workers suspected of supporting the Gulen Movement.
Ankara accuses the Gulen Movement, led by Fetullah Gulen, a former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of orchestrating the coup attempt. Gulen, a US-based cleric, vehemently rejects Turkey's accusations and says that the transnational Islamic social movement founded on his teachings was not involved in the 2016 attempt to overthrow the Erdogan administration.
The suspects leaked the exam paper in a bid to infiltrate the police force. The probe is being led by Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office with simultaneous nationwide operations launched by the police.
Ankara also accuses the Gulenists of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
The purges of the last two years in Turkey have affected tens of thousands of public servants and soldiers, while the government has forcefully seized assets of over 1000 companies which it alleges were connected to the Gulen Movement. The purges have been criticized by Western governments and human rights groups. Human Rights Watch has warned the Turkish government against "using the coup attempt to justify a witch-hunt against those it regards as opponents."
Can Dundar, former editor-in-chief of the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, the oldest up-market Turkish daily newspaper, has described the purges as part of a historical pattern of political power in Turkey shifting back and forth between the secular military versus religious institutions, with democrats in the middle having little power to prevent the repeated oscillations, the current one being worse than previous cycles.
He described the 2016 purges as "the biggest witch-hunt in Turkey's history." It is worth noting that Dundar was also arrested under charges of "treason," faced an assassination attempt and fled to Germany in 2016.