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Purges of the Gulen Movement

Purges Gulen Movement 2019
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One-third of inmates in Ankara prisons affiliated with
the Gülen movement

Since May 2016, the Gülen movement has been classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey under the assigned names Gülenist Terror Organisation (Fethullahçı Terör Örgütü; abbreviation: FETÖ) and Parallel State Structure (Paralel Devlet Yapılanması; abbreviation: PDY).  After the failed coup attempt in 2016, the government of Turkey blamed the group for the coup attempt. Source

Indictment by Turkish prosecutors reveals Gulen movement's suspect's intimate ties with CIA

23 January 2020:

Enver Altaylı, a former staff member of Turkey's National Intelligence Presidency (MİT) was recently indicted in a case over his links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). The damning indictment against Altaylı, who was detained in 2017, discloses his close ties with several members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as well as prominent members of the terrorist group.

FETÖ was behind the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey that killed 251 people. Altaylı was among thousands of suspects detained following the attempt by the terrorist group's military infiltrators. He and three others, including his son-in-law, face accusations of running a terrorist group and membership of a terrorist group stemming from their links to FETÖ. The indictment by the chief prosecutor's office in the capital Ankara also accuses them of political and military espionage.

Mehmet Barıner, another former MİT official, is also a suspect in the case. Altaylı and his son-in-law Metin Can Yılmaz are accused of trying to smuggle Barıner abroad after he was dismissed from his post following the coup attempt on suspicion of FETÖ affiliation.

Authorities found a trove of evidence while searching Altaylı's residence and computers, including his correspondence with CIA officials, reports on "how to create an environment feasible for a military coup in Turkey" and "strategies" for FETÖ members in case of a successful coup attempt. Altaylı's phone records also show his contacts with fugitive and jailed FETÖ members, including Mümtazer Türköne and Erkam Tufan, and an application commonly used for communication by FETÖ members.

Letters addressed to Fetullah Gülen, leader of FETÖ, were also found in Altaylı's computer. One letter urged Gülen to use his infiltrators' clout in Turkey to stop Kaşif Kozinoğlu, an MİT official who died in prison in 2011 after he was imprisoned as part of the notorious Ergenekon trials, which later turned out to be concocted by FETÖ-linked prosecutors, judges and police officers to imprison FETÖ's critics.

An interesting email draft was also discovered in Altaylı's cellphone. Dated Oct. 3, 2016, the draft was addressed to a "Mr. Gen. Flynn" – most possibly Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump. Altaylı says he faced "dismissal" in Turkey for opposing Russian policies, and he would "continue his task" in Belfast.

The indictment says Altaylı had contacts with a number of CIA officials and corresponded with them on social and political developments in Turkey and presented them reports on "critical developments about Turkey."

Altaylı also had intimate ties with Rasim Bölücek, a former adviser to Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, head of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Bölücek and Altaylı made 1,159 phone calls to each other, according to the indictment.

Dozens sentenced to jail in FETÖ wiretapping trial

22 January 2020:

Some 131 Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) suspects were handed down jail sentences Wednesday ranging from three to 45 years for illegally wiretapping high profile targets, including politicians, journalists and business people.

The 4th High Criminal court in the capital Ankara sentenced 126 of the 211 defendants to three years and nine months for "membership of an armed terrorist organization," while 105 of the same defendants were handed down an additional term of four years six months for "forgery of legal documents."

The court went on further to issue sentences to 92 of the defendants, increasing their jail time by seven years and six months for "illegal wiretapping."

Former police intelligence chief Ramazan Akyürek, the most high-profile suspect in the case, was sentenced to a total of 45 years in prison, while former deputy director Gürsel Aktepe was handed down a 27-year sentence.

Former chiefs of police Yurt Atayün and Ali Fuat Yılmazer were each sentenced to seven years six months in prison.

Meanwhile, the court decided to acquit 37 of the suspects while separating the cases of 43 others, including a number of individuals being tried in absentia, having evaded justice.

According to the indictment, the wiretapped targets included President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's chief adviser Yalçın Topçu, former ministers Koray Aydın, Abdullatif Şener and Namık Kemal Zeybek, former general Hurşit Tolon, businesspeople Ali Koç, Vuslat Sabancı, Nihat Özdemir, and dozens of journalists and several lawmakers.

The prosecutors said FETÖ suspects wiretapped government officials and encrypted phones to infiltrate state institutions in order to overthrow the democratically elected government.

25 January 2020:

High-ranking FETÖ member that served as Malaysia 'country imam' nabbed in raid

A suspected so-called "country imam" of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) was arrested in central Turkey, Turkish security sources said Saturday. The suspect, identified by Ahmet K., was a so-called "imam" of FETÖ members in Malaysia from 2011 to 2013. Turkish police detained the suspect and his wife, identified as Betül K., in Turkey's central Konya province.

The couple was brought to the provincial counter-terrorism department for interrogation.

"Country imams" are the highest-ranking members of FETÖ in a single country or region. Accordingly, Ahmet K. was in charge of FETÖ operations in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, India and Thailand for two years.

24 January 2020:

40 police officers detained over alleged Gülen links

Turkish law enforcement on Friday detained 40 police officers as part of an investigation into alleged Gülen movement followers in the police force, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The officers were detained following raids in Ankara, Konya, Gaziantep, Kayseri, Adıyaman, Adana, Trabzon, Yozgat and Bursa provinces. Ten other police officers face detention as part of the same investigation, according to Anadolu.

Since the failed coup, more than 130,000 civil servants have been removed from their jobs by the Turkish government while more than 30,000 people are still in jail due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.More than 33,000 members of the police force have been removed from their jobs due to their alleged Gülen links since the coup attempt.

21 January 2020:

Arrest warrants issued in crackdown on FETÖ infiltrators

Arrest warrants for 48 Gulen movement suspects were issued Tuesday as authorities launched a new clampdown into the shady network's infiltrators in Turkey's education and judiciary system. The Ankara Chief Prosecutor's Office sought the arrest of 16 suspects in an investigation into FETÖ's infiltration into the Ministry of National Education (MEB). The suspects, 11 of them still on active duty, are being sought across seven provinces, including Ankara, Istanbul and İzmir.

Additional arrest warrants for 22 FETÖ suspects were also issued by the Adana Chief Prosecutor's Office. In a statement, the prosecutor's office said the suspects were wanted for trying to recruit military and police school students for the terrorist organization. In a separate probe, the Balıkesir Chief Prosecutor's Office issued warrants for 10 suspects in the judiciary for allegedly being in contact with the so-called "covert imams," the senior members of the terrorist organization.

While prosecutors issued fresh warrants for new suspects, police forces in southern Antalya province arrested 20 FETÖ suspects with existing warrants. According to the police, a large number of documents and digital files were seized in an apartment where the suspects were found. Police said nine of the suspects were sent to the provinces where the cases they are involved in are ongoing, while the rest were released after their statements were taken.

Former judge sentenced

Meanwhile, a court in southeastern Gaziantep province sentenced a former judge to six years and 10 months in prison for being a FETÖ member.The court sentenced Sabit Numan Kaya for "being a member of an armed terrorist organization" as the prosecutor said the evidence showed Kaya using ByLock, an encrypted messaging app developed and exclusively used by FETÖ members.

Turkey arrests 203 suspects in operations against Gulen movement

Authorities issued arrest warrants for 237 people associated with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) on Tuesday. At least 203 suspects were arrested in nationwide operations while a manhunt is underway to capture the suspects at large.

The largest operations were based in İzmir, a western Turkish city where FETÖ's fugitive leader Fetullah Gülen once attracted large masses to his sermons while he was working as a preacher. Prosecutors in the city issued arrest warrants for 176 people, including active-duty soldiers and soldiers retired or dismissed from the army on suspicion of links to the terrorist group, which was behind the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Police launched operations in 49 provinces to capture the suspects, 115 of whom were arrested. Media reports say among the wanted suspects were six F-16 fighter jet pilots and four commanders of gendarme garrisons in towns.

Suspects were identified through their contacts with FETÖ's handlers for military infiltrators via pay phones. FETÖ is known for its utmost secrecy. Even when it was disguised as a religious movement, long before its coup attempts in 2016 and 2013, it managed to keep its secret members out of the public eye. Pay phones were one of the methods used to disguise contacts between its members. A new intelligence report shows that the terrorist group turned to pay phones as early as 2009 to arrange meetings of its infiltrators and their handlers.

In the capital Ankara, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 31 suspects in a probe on FETÖ's mass infiltration into the Turkish Land Forces. Twenty-two suspects, including non-commissioned officers and four civilian handlers controlling terrorist group's military network, were arrested in operations in 10 cities. Another 14 suspects out of 30 with outstanding arrest warrants were detained in operations based in the central city of Konya. Most of them were active-duty soldiers.

In the Black Sea province of Trabzon, authorities issued arrest warrants for 10 suspects and all were captured in operations in Trabzon and five other cities. Police also detained 30 suspects linked to the terrorist group after prosecutors in the northwestern province of Kocaeli issued arrest warrants. Suspects were employees of courthouses and prisons.

Meanwhile, gendarme units in the northwestern city of Edirne arrested two FETÖ suspects who were attempting to sneak into Greece.

FETÖ posed as a religious group for years under the leadership of Gülen before it disclosed its true intention – to topple the government and create chaos in the country – in 2013 with two plots targeting people close to the government. Turkey managed to stave off these attempts and launched operations against the group, which was designated as a national security threat. In 2016, the terrorist group tried to seize power again, this time by staging a coup attempt with the aid of its infiltrators in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). This attempt was quelled too, and the group faced heightened scrutiny. Police have launched countless operations against the group since the 2016 coup attempt that killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200 others. Hundreds of military infiltrators were discovered and arrested in investigations while tens of thousands were arrested for links to the group.

The state of emergency declared after the coup attempt sped up the crackdown on the terrorist group's infiltrators. Some FETÖ members managed to flee abroad, while others are believed to still be hiding their ties to the group. Several former members confessed to authorities that senior figures of the group trained them on how to avoid being detected while serving in the army, law enforcement or judiciary.

21 January 2020:

Detention warrants issued for 22 including former police officers over Gülen links

Turkish prosecutors have issued detention warrants for 22 people including former police officers over alleged links to the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016 despite its strong denial of any involvement, according to Turkish media reports.

The detention warrants were issued by the Adana Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office as part of an investigation into alleged Gülen movement followers. Some of the individuals were detained by police teams on Tuesday following simultaneous police raids on addresses in Adana, İstanbul, Osmaniye and Isparta provinces.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Since the failed coup, more than 130,000 civil servants have been removed from their jobs by the Turkish government while more than 30,000 people are still in jail due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

14 January 2020:

6 pilots among 176 TSK officers facing detention warrants over Gülen links

Turkish prosecutors have issued detention warrants for 176 officers of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) including six F-16 pilots and four gendarmerie district commanders over alleged links to the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The detention warrants were issued as part of an investigation based in the western province of İzmir into alleged Gülen movement followers in the TSK.

According to Anatolia, 104 of the officers are on active duty and 72 are retired from the service. One hundred fifteen of the officers have thus far been detained in police operations across 49 provinces.

7 January 2020:

24 arrested in operations against FETÖ

Turkish police Tuesday arrested 24 people in nationwide operations against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).

In the capital Ankara, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 20 former public officials linked to the group behind the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that killed 251 people. Ten suspects were arrested in operations launched in the capital and 12 provinces. The suspects were identified through testimonies of former Prime Ministry personnel captured in earlier operations against FETÖ and separate investigations. All of the suspects were already suspended from their public duties on suspicion of links to the terrorist group.

Elsewhere, prosecutors in the southern province of Adana sought the arrests of 21 suspects including military officers and two doctors who happened to be former military school cadets. Operations were carried out in eight provinces. Nine suspects were arrested, while a manhunt is underway to capture the other suspects. The suspects are accused of being members of FETÖ's secret network of military infiltrators.

In the central province of Konya, prosecutors sought the arrest of 10 suspected users of Bylock, an encrypted messaging app developed and exclusively used by FETÖ members. Five suspects were arrested in the operations.

6 January 2020:

FETÖ cases see more arrests, new verdicts

Eleven suspects were arrested in operations against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) Monday while the country's top court upheld prison sentences for officers involved in the group's 2016 coup attempt.

Police arrested 11 people for their suspected links to FETÖ after prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 27 suspects.

The Chief Public Prosecutor's Office in the capital Ankara issued warrants for a serving soldier and four former soldiers who either resigned, retired or were expelled. In the northern Samsun province, prosecutors issued warrants for two expelled soldiers and 20 military students. Police conducted anti-terror operations in Ankara, Istanbul, eastern Erzurum, northern Trabzon and Kastamonu provinces and arrested the suspects while a manhunt is underway to capture the remaining suspects. Meanwhile, four terrorists were also arrested in an operation against PKK and FETÖ in southeastern Şırnak province, according to the provincial governorate.

Also on Monday, Turkey's Supreme Court upheld aggravated life sentences for 18 members of the terrorist group. The court said they were guilty of killing Senior Staff Sgt. Ömer Halisdemir during the coup attempt on July 15, 2016. They were sentenced on counts of intentional murder and attempt to overthrow the constitutional order.

3 January 2020:

70 sentenced to life over FETÖ's 2016 coup attempt

An Istanbul court Friday sentenced 70 defendants to life imprisonment and acquitted two others in a case regarding the 2016 coup attempt by Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Defendants were cadets of the Air Forces Warfare School and two conscripts who transported them to Istanbul from the city of Yalova on July 15, 2016, to assist the putschists. Twenty-nine defendants were present in the courtroom for the last hearing of the trial that started months after putschists killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200 people across the country.

Judges initially handed down aggravated life imprisonment with no chance for parole for 70 defendants but later commuted that to a life sentence, based on "good manners" they exhibited during the trials. The court ruled two conscripts, who were released earlier pending trial, simply "erred" as they followed the orders of their superiors, and ruled for their acquittal.

Defendants have claimed their innocence. They have said in their defense that they were not aware of a coup attempt and were told by superiors that they would go to Istanbul to attend a military drill. Prosecutors have called for aggravated life sentences for cadets on charges of violation of the Constitution, a crime with the heaviest sentence, usually imposed for terror-related crimes.

Out of 289 cases that went to trial over the brutal coup attempt, 272 were concluded in the three years. Apart from the 70 cadets, 3,879 defendants were convicted, including 2,335 who were sentenced to life imprisonment. Among them were 1,225 who were handed down sentences of aggravated life imprisonment or life in solitary confinement.

2 January 2020:

FETÖ coup bid trials linger into 2020

Trials on the 2016 coup attempt by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) (Gulen movement) have mostly been concluded, but the courts ended 2019 without verdicts in 18 cases.

Out of 289 cases that went to trial over the brutal coup attempt that killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200 others, 271 were concluded in the three years since July 15, 2016. A total of 3,879 defendants were convicted, including 2,335 who were sentenced to life imprisonment. Among them were 1,225 who were handed down sentences of aggravated life imprisonment or life in solitary confinement. Courts also sentenced 1,544 defendants to prison terms ranging from one year and two months to 20 years.

FETÖ, which employed its military infiltrators everywhere to topple the government and assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been the subject of more than 100,000 investigations by prosecutors since the coup attempt.

The government vowed swift justice for the perpetrators but the sheer number of those involved in the putsch bid prolonged the trials. Read the full article

2 January 2020:

119 people in Turkey died due to crackdown on Gülen movement in 2019

At least 119 people lost their lives in Turkey due to an ongoing government-led crackdown on the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016, according to an online platform. The “zulümlebitenhayatlar” (lives that end due to tyranny) is an online platform that keeps track of the individuals who die due to the direct or indirect consequences of the crackdown.

According to the platform, 119 people lost their lives due to the crackdown in 2019. The platform also posted a short video that had a list of these individuals and the date on which they died.

Many people including children have drowned in the waters of the Aegean Sea or the Maritsa River while trying to flee the crackdown, while others died in prison or under detention either due to maltreatment or because they were ailing and were denied medical treatment.

25 December 2019:
64 arrested in nationwide operations against FETÖ

20 December 2019:

Mayor, 190 others arrested in new wave of operations against FETÖ

Authorities arrested 191 people on Monday and Tuesday in nationwide operations against suspected members of the Gülen movement. FETÖ is under intensified scrutiny following its 2016 coup attempt.

The most high-profile name to be arrested was İbrahim Burak Oğuz, mayor of Urla, a town in the western province of İzmir. Oğuz, who was elected as mayor from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the March 31 elections, was arrested for his close ties to the terrorist group.

Prosecutors accuse him of contacts with senior figures in FETÖ. Oğuz was a board member of a business association in İzmir which was closed down for its links to the terrorist group. Oğuz is also accused of spreading the terrorist group’s propaganda as a “sohbet” leader. Sohbet, meaning conversation in Turkish, is a term used to describe meetings of the terrorist group where one high-ranking member speaks on religious matters and on the planning of secret activities.

The suspect was also in contact with the group’s handlers for infiltrators in law enforcement, the judiciary, bureaucracy, military, etc. In his first testimony to police, Oğuz rejected the accusations and claimed he might have contacted FETÖ members due to his previous profession as a financial adviser.

FETÖ is known for planting its members in political parties. So far, authorities have accused four advisers of CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu of having links to FETÖ. One of them, Ahmet Caner Yenidünya, who was also nominated for a parliamentary seat for the CHP in 2015, was dismissed from his post at a university in Istanbul for his links to the terrorist group. Fatih Gürsul, another adviser, was convicted of FETÖ membership and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The biggest operation was in the capital Ankara on Tuesday. The chief prosecutor’s office in the capital issued arrest warrants for 260 suspects and 171 of them were detained while the manhunt is underway to capture the others. They were arrested as part of an investigation into encrypted messaging app Bylock and all are accused of using Bylock. Bylock is an app developed and exclusively used by FETÖ members for secret communication. It was discovered during criminal inquiries into the terrorist group, whose criminal activities have been under the spotlight since its two coup attempts in 2013.

The National Intelligence Organization (MİT) uncovered the messaging app apparently programmed – or modified for the exclusive use of the group's – by someone linked to FETÖ. According to media reports, police intelligence staff linked to the terrorist group were behind the app. The FETÖ-linked staff working in a powerful intelligence department of the Turkish National Police were the "architects" of the modified app to serve the purposes of the group. A group of intelligence officers is accused of controlling the private app used to deliver FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen's messages to his followers, as well as to instruct the group's members on how to carry out plots against “foes” of the group.

Millions of Bylock messages exchanged between FETÖ members have been uncovered, while investigations continue to reveal more messages.

Among those arrested in Tuesday’s operations was the daughter of a former member of the Supreme Court of Appeals who upheld a controversial case later revealed to be a sham trial orchestrated by FETÖ, and the wife of another former member of the same court. Media outlets reported the suspects were employees of private and public sector companies.

Also in Ankara, prosecutors ordered the arrest of 18 suspects in an investigation into FETÖ’s infiltration into the Health Ministry and public hospitals. Five suspects were still on active duty while the rest were already dismissed from their jobs on suspicion of having links with the terrorist group. Ten suspects in the case were arrested in operations in Ankara and four other cities.

In the southern province of Gaziantep, prosecutors ordered the arrest of nine FETÖ members who infiltrated the judiciary. The suspects, including court clerks and prison guards, were captured in operations in Gaziantep, Diyarbakır, Adıyaman and Kilis

20 December 2019:
22 terror suspects detained in new operations

17 December 2019:
Main opposition CHP's Urla mayor arrested over FETÖ links

9 December 2019:
Top court upholds life sentences in coup bid case

30 November 2019:
Turkish police identify over 25,000 users of FETÖ messaging app ByLock

11 December 2019:
64 detained as part of operations targeting Gülen movement members

25 November 2019:
Arrest warrants out for 68 FETÖ suspects

22 November 2019:
Arrest warrants issued, life sentences demanded in FETÖ probes

22 November 2019:
Arrest warrants issued, life sentences demanded in FETÖ probes

21 November 2019:
Life sentences approved for 28 FETÖ suspects

21 November 2019:
Turkey detains 261,000, arrests 91,000 in post-coup crackdown on Gülen followers

19 November 2019:
Arrest warrants out for 229 suspects in FETÖ's military, finance branches

12 November 2019:
Few coup trials remain but FETÖ threat prevails as new ops show

6 November 2019:

Presidential board vows to give no ground in fight against Gülen movement

Turkey’s newly established Presidential Higher Advisory Board led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has voiced its determination to continue with an unprecedented crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement without making any compromises, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Following a three-hour meeting at Erdoğan’s presidential palace in Ankara on Tuesday, the board released a statement in which it emphasized the importance of the continuation of the fight against the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016.

Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government label the movement as a terrorist organization named “Fetö,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

In its statement the board said compromises would never be made in the “decisive fight against Fetö, which is the culprit of the heinous July 15 coup attempt.” The board also said attitudes and actions that are likely to weaken the fight against the movement would never be allowed.

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight as a result of which more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 30,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.

The board, which was established by a presidential decree in May, comprises former AKP heavyweights who are no longer members of parliament such as Bülent Arınç, İsmail Kahraman, Mehmet Ali Şahin and Köksal Toptan.

In the meantime, Erdoğan at his party’s parliamentary group meeting earlier on Tuesday said he regrets recent remarks from Arınç, who described the post-coup government decrees as a “disaster.”

Arınç also apologized for the purge of the thousands of civil servants from their jobs.

“There are so many people around me who suffered this tragedy. I feel sorry for them, I have sympathy for them. I am actually apologizing to them. I feel so ashamed when I see the woman who comes to my house to clean because she was purged as the director [of a state agency]. A police officer whose spouse, a fellow police officer, was also purged,” he said.

5 November 2019
Turkey orders detention of 164 suspects in ongoing crackdown on Gülen movement

30 October 2019:
New operations target Gulen Movement's army network, fugitives

23 October 2019:
34 Gulen Movement suspects caught in operations

23 October 2019:
25 suspects arrested in anti-FETÖ operations

21 October 2019:
Probe discovers malicious FETÖ scheme to infiltrate Turkish military

Top ranking FETÖ suspect captured in overseas operation

22 September 2019:
Tens of thousands under confidential investigation over Gülen links

11 September 2019:

Nationwide operations net suspects tied to the Gulen Movement

In a new wave of operations yesterday, 191 arrest warrants were issued for suspected members of the FETÖ terrorist group. Some 59 suspects have already been arrested in investigations into the group's role in the 2016 coup attempt

A new crackdown was launched against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) yesterday by prosecutors across the country. In operations that came three years after the group tried to seize power in a coup attempt, 191 arrest warrants were issued for suspected members of the terrorist group. Some 59 people were arrested when Daily Sabah went to print.

In three separate investigations in the capital Ankara, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 128 people. In one investigation, arrest warrants were issued for 50 active-duty noncommissioned officers of Gendarme General Command and three civilian "secret imams." Counterterrorism units from the Ankara police launched raids to detain the suspects but the number of detained is still unclear.

Prosecutors say the noncommissioned officers were in contact with "secret imams," a name given to civilian handlers for FETÖ's military infiltrators, usually via payphones. Communication via payphones is a common method employed by FETÖ to avoid detection. Since the 2016 coup attempt, prosecutors found that nearly 14,500 people used pay phones to communicate with senior members of FETÖ. Around 13,500 of them were arrested in over 800 operations across the country. Some 5,000 of the detainees have been remanded into custody, while nearly 8,500 suspects were released, including those under judicial control.

The terrorist group is known for its widespread infiltration of the army, law enforcement, judiciary and bureaucracy. It first attempted to overthrow the government in 2013 with its infiltrators in the judiciary and the Turkish National Police. It failed, and the group faced increased scrutiny. When the news broke that the military was preparing to launch a mass purge of FETÖ-linked officers in August 2016, the group moved to prevent it with the coup attempt that killed 251 people and injured about 2,200 others. Strong public resistance ultimately stopped the coup, and the coup's ringleaders, including generals, were arrested. Since then, tens of thousands of people linked to the group and the coup attempt have been detained or arrested, while trials were launched into the group's wrongdoings.

In another investigation, prosecutors in Ankara sought the arrests of 27 people from the Land Forces Command of the Turkish Army and two civilian imams. Among the suspects were three captains and 16 first lieutenants as well as lower-ranking officers. The suspects were discovered through their contact with their FETÖ handlers via payphones. Also in Ankara, authorities sought the arrest of 46 suspected users of ByLock, an encrypted messaging app developed and exclusively used by FETÖ members. Some 39 suspects were captured while a manhunt is still underway to capture the others. Another operation against ByLock users was carried out in the northern city of Samsun. Prosecutors ordered the arrest of nine suspects, including two teachers and seven people who worked at FETÖ-linked companies. The suspects were detained in operations in six cities.

A probe into ByLock started prior to the 2016 coup attempt. However, investigations gained significance after the attempt. Authorities deciphered messages revealing secret correspondents pointing to an imminent coup in operations after the coup bid. The Interior Ministry recently announced that 4,676 new ByLock users were detected in the investigation that already identified more than 95,000 users.

In the central city of Konya, arrest warrants were issued for 53 suspects accused of serving as handlers for FETÖ's military infiltrators. Ten suspects were detained, while operations are underway in 28 cities to capture the other suspects. The suspects were identified through interrogations of military personnel and FETÖ handlers who were detained in earlier operations. Prosecutors say the handlers had different positions within the terrorist group and each had "job titles" corresponding to their work with infiltrators. Some simply conveyed the FETÖ leadership's orders to infiltrators, while others helped infiltrators get promotions in the army or worked to recruit military cadets into the terrorist group. In the western city of Eskişehir, police captured Abdülkadir Ö., a former noncommissioned officer.

Abdülkadir was wanted for his role in the 2016 coup attempt. Authorities say the suspect is accused of supplying munitions to a team of putschist soldiers who tried to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during the coup bid. The suspect was stationed at an air base in the western city of İzmir when the coup attempt took place. An investigation found out that Abdülkadir was the officer who opened a military arsenal for the team of assassins who took off from the air base in helicopters and gave them munitions.

Erdoğan was on vacation in the southwestern resort town of Marmaris, which is located near İzmir, when the coup attempt broke out. He escaped the assassination attempt when he left his hotel just before the arrival of assassins and secretly flew to Istanbul where he mobilized the public to confront the putschists. Abdülkadir fled after the coup attempt was foiled and was hiding in a house in Eskişehir when he was captured. Gökhan Şahin Sönmezateş, the general who organized the assassination bid, and members of the team of assassins were sentenced to life in earlier trials on the coup attempt, while one member of the team still remains at large.

10 September 2019:

Staff recounts FETÖ putschists raid on TRT in trial

It was the turn of plaintiffs in a trial of the putschists who raided the public broadcaster TRT on July 15, 2016. The crew of the broadcaster testified on what happened when soldiers aligned with Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) stormed the broadcaster's headquarters in the capital Ankara in a trial in the Turkish capital yesterday.

Some 521 defendants are being tried in the Presidential Guard Regiment trial that is underway in Ankara. The members of the prestigious regiment are accused of attempting to take over TRT, where they tried to cut off the broadcast.

In yesterday's hearing, plaintiffs detailed how soldiers arrived to take over the TRT building as a coup was unfolding across Turkey on the orders of FETÖ leaders.

Emine Özlem Avcı was working at the TRT news department when she heard a noise in the production control room around 10 p.m. on July 15, 2016.

"I saw soldiers going upstairs to news studio and yelling the staff to lay down on the ground. We were taken to one floor below and soldiers told us that Daesh would carry out a terrorist attack. We were ordered to lay on the floor again. I saw some colleagues being handcuffed and soldiers told us not to raise our heads while on the ground. They were also talking about reading some sort of declaration. I could not see who was speaking. They later took us to another room on the upper floor while some were ordered to stay where they are. I was among nine people who were locked up in that room until after [the coup attempt] ended," Avcı told the court. Cumhur Kılıç was a chief technician working in a unit for broadcast transmission when the coup attempt took place. He was at night shift when he noticed transmission from TRT World, TRT Çocuk and TRT Müzik channels, which broadcast from Istanbul, were cut off.

"We tried to contact Istanbul but we couldn't. Lines were dead. Around 23:30, some people wearing military fatigues and some civilians came to my unit. A high-ranking officer was leading the group. He did not say anything other ‘You will receive orders from us from now on. Anyone disobeying will be punished,' he said. It was when I realized that this was a coup. All except a man in civilian clothes and a soldier left.

The civilian apparently knew about broadcast transmissions. They wanted us to connect TRT Haber (News) channel's broadcast to all other TRT channels. They wanted a simultaneous broadcast on all channels. I argued with them and tried to find excuses not to do what they wanted. At midnight, we saw a declaration of coup announced on TV," he told the court.

He added that the broadcast was cut off when the satellite provider TÜRKSAT shut down the transmission and it was only then that he found out that people opposing the coup were entering the TRT building. A strong public resistance ultimately foiled the putsch bid that killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200 others but putschists had succeeded in having a TV presenter they held at gunpoint to read the declaration of the coup in the name of their so-called Peace At Home Council.

20 June 2019:

Who are putschists slapped with heavy jail terms?

Nearly three years on, scores of convicts received heavy jail terms for their involvement in the defeated 2016 coup in Turkey. 

In the main trial of former general staff personnel, 224 defendants have been tried, including alleged members of the so-called "Peace at Home Council" -- a sub-group of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) -- which was meant to replace the government had the deadly putsch not been defeated.

On Thursday, 17 top putschists each faced 141 aggravated life sentences less than month before the third anniversary of the deadly July 15 coup attempt

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

Here are the main FETO convicts who received heavy jail terms: 

Akin Ozturk, former Air Force Commander General  

Ozturk, the key officer who plotted the coup from within the military, received a total of 141 aggravated life sentences.

Charges against Ozturk include violating the Constitution, attempted assassination of the president, trying to overthrow parliament, directing an armed terrorist group, mutiny, first-degree homicide, damaging public property, endangering public safety, harming houses of worship, and offenses against civil liberty.

Ozturk was charged with being a member of the FETO/PDY (Fetullah Gulen Terrorist Organization and Parallel State Structure) and a member of the so-called council.

The indictment also recounted a conversation when a person identified as Bayram Aktan asked then-Major Mehmet Akcara "Where is the commander?" referring to the loyalist Chief of General Staff General Hulusi Akar.

According to Aktan's statement, Akcara responded: "There is no commander. From now on Akin Ozturk is the commander." 

Former General Hakan Evrim, commander of Ankara's Akinci Main Jet Base

A member of the so-called "Peace at Home Council", Evrim was handed 141 aggravated life sentences for his involvement in the defeated coup.

He was the commander of Akinci Main Jet Base, which was used as headquarters during the attempt.

If the coup attempt had been successful, Evrim would have been slated to become the "Undersecretary of National Education".

Evrim asked then-Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar to speak with Gulen, whom he described as an "opinion leader", while holding Akar under detention with other pro-coup forces. 

Mehmet Disli, FETO’s coup director

Also a member of the putschist council, Mehmet Disli received 141 aggravated life sentences.

He was the head of the General Staff's Strategic Transformation Department with the rank of major-general until FETO's treacherous coup attempt.

Disli said he would ask Akar -- currently serving as defense minister -- to cooperate and lead the coup attempt, after having planned the attempted putsch with two other former officers in the General Staff headquarters. Had Akar accepted, Akin Ozturk would have been second-in-command.

After face-to-face meetings with other FETO-member soldiers in the headquarters, he entered Akar's office to tell the four-star general that an operation against the government was imminent, only to be vehemently rejected by Akar.

Unable to persuade Akar to lead the coup attempt, Disli ordered his accompanying soldiers to detain him.

Akar was later taken to the Akinci Base via military helicopter.

FETO soldiers who lost hope after realizing the putsch would fail were forced to release Akar. Seeing this as an opportunity, Disli rode in the same helicopter as Akar to former seat of the now-defunct prime ministry at the Cankaya Palace in Ankara.

He was subsequently exposed by Akar who met with then-Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and reported Disli’s suspicious behavior throughout the night. Afterwards, Disli was detained. 

Ilhan Talu, General Staff personnel chief

Among the members of the putschist council, Ilhan Talu, a former lieutenant general, was slapped with an aggravated life sentence for violating constitutional order.

He served as the General Staff personnel chief until the treacherous coup attempt of FETO. 

Talu guided Special Forces personnel to the hallway of the General Staff headquarters and mislead Yusuf Yalcin, a guard of the second chief, and Mehmet Satun, a sergeant on duty, by saying an exercise was being carried out. 

In a court hearing, he claimed he alerted the authorities who were not involved in the coup attempt on July 15 after learning that it was a coup bid led by FETO. 

Levent Turkkan, aide of former chiefs of general staff 

Turkan started to serve as the aide of the then-chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Ozel in 2011. After assuming the post, Turkkan started to receive secret missions from FETO. 

Turkkan had confessed he spied on Ozel during his post between 2011- 2015. 

Once General Hulusi Akar was appointed as the Chief of Staff, Turkkan said he stopped wire-tapping.

He proved his commitment to the FETO terror group during the coup attempt as being a part of the staff that entered Akar's room and gagged him.

After the thwarted coup bid, Turkkan said he surrendered to the military officials who turned him in to the police.

More than 30,000 arrested for Gulen movement links since the coup bid

The Interior Ministry announced Monday that 30,709 people have been taken into custody for their links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) since its members tried to seize power in a coup attempt in July 2016.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday in the capital Ankara, ministry spokesman İsmail Çataklı said security forces "processed" 511,646 people on FETÖ-related charges over three years following the coup attempt that killed 251 people. "The process" refers to detentions and investigations. A total of 30,709 among them were arrested and are still in custody awaiting hearings in their cases or the start of their trials. Çataklı said another 19,329 people were convicted of FETÖ membership and related crimes. "We continue our fight against FETÖ with determination," the spokesman added. Source

Interior minister says more than 500,000 detained, 30,000 arrested over Gülen links

Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on Wednesday night that more than 500,000 people have been detained while 30,000 others were sent to jail over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Soylu’s remarks came during an interview on the 24 TV station.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Soylu was responding to a question about main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s claim that ordinary and poor people were being sent to jail due to Gülen links.

“More than 500,000 detentions were made, and there are 30,000 in jail [due to Gülen links]. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu lacks the capacity to understand the severity of this [fight against the movement].

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight as a result of which more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs in addition to others facing legal action.

Turkey to launch major operation against Gülen movement: interior minister


Turkish informant says he fabricated stories on Gülen movement to avoid jail