12/01/2020, 09.20
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Izmir, the hunt for opponents continues: arrest warrant for 82 soldiers

63 already detained. Suspects include seventy still on active duty. The operation signed by the Izmir prosecutor took place overnight and affected 39 provinces. 848 soldiers dismissed, including high-ranking officers. At least 150,000 people fired or suspended since the purges began.

Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Turkish judiciary has ordered the arrest of 82 soldiers, in an operation aimed at targeting the (alleged) supporters of the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, accused of being the mastermind of the (failed) coup of the summer 2016.

The official state agency Anadolu reported the operation as being part of a campaign that has been underway for four years against the network of the religious leader. The former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now in exile in the United States and strongly denies all charges.

The operation that led to the new arrests was carried out overnight and early this morning and involved 39 provinces of the country. Police have already carried out 63 of 82 arrest warrants. Those arrested were taken to prison. Of the suspects, about seventy were still on active duty today.

The arrest warrants were signed by the chief prosecutor of the western coastal province of Izmir, who also ordered the dismissal of 848 soldiers still in service, including high-ranking officers, for links with the Gülen network. They are added to the 80,000 people under arrest awaiting trial and the approximately 150,000 employees who have been fired or suspended. Of these, at least 20,000 were members of the army.

After the night of the attempted coup in mid-July 2016, in which 250 people died and Erdoğan's power wavered for a few hours, the Turkish government launched a full blown witch hunt. Tens of thousands of alleged participants, at home and abroad – intellectuals, activists, soldiers, judges, teachers, ordinary people – were targeted for links with Fethullah Gülen. According to the president, Gülen’s supporters infiltrated the police forces, the judiciary and other key institutions to create a “state within the state”.

Some 292,000 people were taken into custody with nearly 100,000 held pending trial. About 150,000 civil servants were sacked or suspended after the coup, including 20,000 expelled from the military. Courts have handed down more than 2,500 life sentences.

 Last week a Turkish court sentenced hundreds of people accused of plotting and perpetrating the coup to dozens of life sentences. The charges include the "attempt to overthrow the established order" and the desire to "assassinate President" Erdogan.

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