Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for more than 400 people, including soldiers and security officers, over alleged affiliation to the network of US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of having orchestrated last July’s failed military coup.
Turkish-language Haberturk television news network reported on Saturday that the suspects were being sought for using ByLock mobile application, which the Turkish government claims to be the top communication tool among members of the Gulen movement.
A police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, later announced that security officials had arrested 132 people during separate raids in 49 provinces across the country.
Ankara says it has been successful in significantly diminishing the power of Gulen’s supporters in state institutions following the botched July 15, 2016 putsch.
Gulen has strongly condemned the coup attempt and denied any involvement in it.
Turkish officials say over 240 people were killed and more than 2,100 others injured in the coup attempt.
Tens of thousands of people, including military personnel, judges and teachers, have been suspended, dismissed or detained as part of the post-coup crackdown.
According to a survey conducted by the official Anadolu news agency, a total of 40,832 suspects have been arrested since the coup attempt.
A total of 2,279 administrative and judicial judges, 104 members of the Appeals Court, 41 members of the Council of State, two members of the Supreme Court, and three members of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors have been arrested as part of the ongoing investigations.
Additionally, 168 army generals, 7,596 Security Directorate police officers, 17 governors, 74 deputy governors, and 69 district governors under the Interior Ministry have been detained.
International rights groups argue that Ankara’s crackdown has gone far beyond the so-called Gulenists and targeted Kurds as well as government critics in general.
On November 24, 2016, the European Parliament decided to temporarily halt accession negotiations with Turkey over the large-scale crackdown.