Turkey has arrested more than 1,600 people accused of being linked to the failed military coup in July 2016, including 1,218 suspected followers of the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Among the detainees are also suspected Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) jihadists and members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Marxist guerrilla movement designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and other NATO allies.
A statement released by the interior ministry Monday and published on the state-run Anadolu news agency site confirmed the arrests.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has designated the religious movement led by Gulen, currently in self-imposed exile in the United States, a terrorist organization — the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
“They included 1,218 suspected members of the Fethullah Terrorist Organization held responsible for the attempted coup in July, 372 PKK suspects and 75 Daesh [ISIS] suspects,” notes the Turkish interior ministry statement, referring to the 1,600-plus detainees, according to Anadolu.
The arrests come after the Erdogan administration issued a report earlier this month claiming alleged cooperation between the FETO, PKK, and ISIS “prior to and following the July 15 coup attempt,” notes Anadolu.
Turkey also accuses the United States and NATO of playing a role in the coup attempt.
Specifically, the Turkish government report claims there has been a “significant increase in the number of US-based cyber attacks against Turkey after July 15,” from 97 over the three and a half months prior to the attempt to 4,437 in the three and a half month period after.
Ankara alleges that the United States and NATO promised the PKK that President Erdogan “would be toppled in [the] fall [of] 2016… either he would resign himself or be forced to leave after an ‘insurgence'” led by PKK terrorists, Gulen followers (Gulenists), and members of other organizations.
Erdogan has accused his former ally Gulen and his supporters of orchestrating the attempted July 2016 coup to overthrow his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The Turkish president has repeatedly accused the Gulen movement of conspiring to remove him from office by assembling a network of supporters in the media, judiciary, and education sectors of the country.
“More than 100,000 public officials and civil servants, including around 28,000 teachers, have been dismissed or suspended since the coup attempt which killed at least 241 citizens and police,” reports Rudaw. “During the attempted coup, fighter jets bombed the country’s parliament.”
“The scale of dismissals and prosecutions in connection with the coup and weakened safeguards gave rise to serious concerns that the legitimate prosecution of those suspected of involvement in the coup attempt is being conducted without due process,” reports Human Rights Watch.
Members of the terrorist groups ISIS and the PKK have either claimed responsibility or been accused of carrying out the attacks that have killed and wounded hundreds of civilians, police, and government officials in Turkey since July 2015.
The Erdogan administration has repeatedly urged the United States to extradite Gulen.
Although former President Barack Obama expressed a willingness to consider the extradition of the Islamic cleric, his administration requested concrete evidence linking Gulen to the coup attempt before considering Turkey’s request.
Both Erdogan and Obama officials have acknowledged that Turkey has failed to produce any evidence.
“We are convinced and hopeful that, especially regarding Turkey and the US relations, the old administration’s mistakes will not be repeated,” declared Turkish Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus on Monday, renewing the Erdogan administration’s calls for the American government to extradite Gulen.