Turkish authorities are seeking to detain 60 active-duty military personnel, including pilots, with alleged links to the 2016 failed coup, state news agency Anadolu said on Monday.
The chief public prosecutor’s office in Ankara issued detention warrants for the 60 suspects – all of whom are from the Air Force Command in Ankara – while 31 were already detained, Anadolu reported.
Among the suspects are six colonels and eight pilots, it reported.
The 31 detainees were brought to Ankara police headquarters for questioning, and the search for remaining suspects was ongoing, the report said.
The warrants were issued on suspicion of links to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric whom the government blames for the failed 2016 coup attempt by a faction in the military.
However, Gulen has denied the accusation.
The prosecutors in Ankara concluded that the suspects had used fixed telephone lines to maintain communication with “secret imams,” Anadolu added, using a term for people, who allegedly controlled Gulen followers in the army.
Turkish authorities have continued to detain alleged “Gulenists” on an almost daily basis, more than two years after the coup attempt.
On July 15, 2016, a coup d’état was attempted in Turkey against state institutions, including the government and President Recep Erdoğan.
They coup perpetrators attempted to seize control of several key places in Ankara, Istanbul, and elsewhere, but failed to do so after forces loyal to the state defeated them.
The Council cited an erosion of secularism, elimination of democratic rule, disregard for human rights, and Turkey’s loss of credibility in the international arena as reasons for the coup.
The Turkish government has accused Gülen of being behind the coup – a claim that Gülen has denied – and accused the US of harbouring him.
Gülen has suggested the coup was in fact a “self-coup” carried out by Erdoğan to consolidate his grip on power, a belief shared among some analysts and Turks.
During the coup, over 300 people were killed and more than 2,100 injured. Many government buildings, including the Turkish Parliament and the Presidential Palace, were bombed from the air.
Mass arrests followed, with at least 40,000 detained, including at least 10,000 soldiers and, for reasons that remain unclear, 2,745 judges.
Also, 15,000 education staff were suspended and the licenses of 21,000 teachers working in private institutions were revoked as well after the government alleged they were loyal to Gülen.
More than 77,000 people have been arrested and over 160,000 fired from their jobs, on accusations of connections to Gülen.
Reactions to the event were largely against the coup attempt, both domestically and internationally.
The main opposition parties in Turkey condemned the attempt, while several international leaders- such as those from the US, NATO, the EU, and other neighbouring countries.
They called for “respect of the democratic institutions in Turkey and its elected officials.”