The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday issued arrest warrants for 31 active duty and three retired members of varying ranks from the Naval Forces Command as part of an investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement, the Diken news website reported.
Following police operations in seven provinces, including Ankara, 19 suspects had been detained by noon and the remaining were being sought.
The prosecutor accused the naval forces members of secretly communicating by pay telephone. According to the Cumhuriyet daily, “pay telephone operations” will be expanded inside the Turkish military.
On 14 May, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants for 25 active duty and 47 retired colonels from the Turkish Land Forces. Sixty-five of them have been arrested in police operations in 14 provinces on the same accusations.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
The ruling AKP government dismissed 24,977 military members including 150 generals, 4,630 officers, 2,167 noncommissioned officers, 1,210 specialized sergeants, 411 civil servants and workers, and 16,409 cadets following the failed coup over alleged links to the Gülen movement.
Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli on April 18 said the government has identified 3,000 active duty military officers suspected of links to the Gülen movement and that they would be dismissed with a government decree in the coming days.