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Turkey orders arrest of 122 military personnel over suspected Gulen links

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U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey has ordered the arrest of 122 military personnel over suspected links to the network blamed by Ankara for orchestrating a failed military coup, prosecutors and the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday.

Ankara has accused U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen of masterminding the attempted putsch in July 2016. He has denied any involvement.

Police have launched one operation in Istanbul, prosecutors there said. Authorities have also launched separate operations in the western coastal province of Izmir and the central province of Konya, Anadolu added.

Almost three years after the failed coup, more than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial and about 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.

Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the scope of the crackdown, saying President Tayyip Erdogan has used the abortive coup as a pretext to quash dissent.

The government has said the security measures are necessary due to the gravity of the threat Turkey faces, and has vowed to eradicate Gulen’s network in the country.

Police based in Izmir were looking for 42 suspects there and in 17 other provinces, Anadolu said. Authorities believed members of Gulen’s network had used pay phones to contact the suspects, it added.

Authorities in Konya were looking for another 40 suspects, including soldiers on active duty, there and in 25 other provinces, the news agency reported.

Istanbul’s prosecutors office said another 40 suspects including high ranking military personnel were being sought in the city and 14 other provinces.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Andrew Heavens



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