ISTANBUL, Jan 15 (Reuters) – Turkey ordered the arrest of 192 people over suspected links to the network of the U.S.-based Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating an attempted coup in 2016, the Hurriyet newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Police operations targeting the followers of Fethullah Gulen have been carried out regularly since the failed coup and have recently gained momentum. Authorities in Istanbul and Adana ordered the arrest of more than 100 military suspects last week.
The Ankara chief prosecutor’s office said it ordered the arrest of 50 military suspects – 3 lieutenants and 47 sergeants – as well as 55 people accused of using the ByLock messaging app, the newspaper reported.
Turkey outlawed ByLock in the aftermath of the failed putsch, saying followers of Gulen used it to communicate on the night of July 15, 2016, when a group of rogue soldiers attempted to overthrow the government, killing some 250 people.
Gulen, a former ally of President Tayyip Erdogan who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, has denied the charges and condemned the coup.
The prosecutor’s office in the central province of Konya ordered the detention of 50 people, including military personnel and their contacts in the Gulen network, the newspaper said.
The prosecutor’s offices of two other provinces, Mugla and Kocaeli, ordered the detention of 15 and 22 military personnel respectively.
More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs as part of the post-coup purges.
Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concerns over the crackdown, saying President Tayyip Erdogan has used the abortive coup as a pretext to quash dissent. The government has said the security measures were necessary due to the gravity of the threat Turkey faces.