Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrant for 360 military personnel and civilians over their alleged links to last year’s failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The warrants were issued against 333 soldiers, most of whom still on active duty, as well as 27 civilian suspects of being so-called “secret imams” who allegedly directed supporters of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen within Turkey’s armed forces, state-run Anadolu news
agency reported on Wednesday.
The operation to arrest the suspects is still underway, the report said.
Gulen runs an extensive network of international education and religious programs with branches in Turkey and several other countries. The cleric, a former ally of Erdogan, has denied any involvement in the coup that left more than 250 people dead.
He has said on several occasions that the post-coup crackdown, in which more than 50,000 people have been jailed and around 150,000 others dismissed from their jobs, was an attempt to consolidate Erdogan’s grip on power.
Rights groups and European governments have repeatedly criticized Ankara for the continued crackdown, saying it has mainly targeted dissent. They also censure a simultaneous push by Turkey against the country’s Kurdish population.
Erdogan’s government maintains that Gulen’s network has deeply infiltrated Turkey’s judiciary, army, schools and other institutions, saying the purges are the only way to neutralize what he calls the threat posed by coup plotters.
Ankara also dismisses allegations of unjust treatment of the Kurds, saying many of those arrested have had links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party and have helped militants carry out attacks against civilians and security forces across the country over the past years.