Turkish authorities on Tuesday arrested 198 people, including many soldiers, suspected of being close to preacher Fethullah Gülen, Ankara’s bête noire who accuses him of having instigated a coup attempt in July 2016, according to the agency. state press Anadolu. The arrests were made on the orders of the prosecutor’s office in Izmir, western Turkey, which issued arrest warrants for 304 people suspected of having had telephone conversations with leaders of the Gulenist movement.
Among the suspects wanted, 295 are serving military personnel, Anadolu reported.
In another operation also targeting suspected supporters of Mr. Gülen, 21 people, including many military medics, were arrested in Ankara on Tuesday.
Preacher Fethullah Gülen, installed in the United States for twenty years, heads a network accused by Ankara of having infiltrated Turkish institutions in order to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Mr Erdogan accuses Mr Gülen, a former ally, of being the mastermind of the attempted coup in July 2016, which he denies.
Since the abortive putsch, the authorities have tracked down Mr. Gülen’s supporters and have unleashed purges on a scale unprecedented in modern Turkish history. Several tens of thousands of people have been arrested and more than 140,000 dismissed or suspended from their functions.
At the end of November, 337 people, including officers and pilots, were sentenced to life imprisonment after the main trial over the attempted coup.