Over 200 Turkish military staff face arrest over alleged Gulen links

The Turkish government has ordered the arrest of 223 serving military personnel across the country and in the breakaway state of Northern Cyprus because of their suspected connection to the Gulen network.

The state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported on Saturday.

According to a report by the state broadcaster TRT Haber, Turkish authorities currently seek 100 suspects from the army, 41 from the air force and 32 more from the Navy in a total of 49 provinces across the country.

Led by the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, Gulen movement is labeled by the Turkish government as a terrorist organization.

Ankara also accuses the movement of masterminding the failed coup attempt targeting the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that took place on July 15, 2016.

Although both Gulen and his followers deny any involvement in the putsch, Turkish authorities have since carried out regular operations against real or alleged followers of the movement.

More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial and some 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs, during the three-year purge targeting the group since the coup attempt.

The scale of the crackdown being carried out by the governing AKP against the Gulen movement has been widely criticized by Turkey’s Western allies as well as a number of rights groups.

They argued that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used the abortive coup as an excuse to eliminate critics of his AKP government.

Defending the measures as a necessary response to the scale of the security threat which Turkey faces, Erdogan promised to eradicate Gulen’s network.

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