Turkey probes alleged links in military with U.S.-based cleric: defence minister
ISTANBUL - Reuters
AA PhotoTurkish Defence Minister İsmet Yılmaz said on Wednesday that a military prosecutor has opened an investigation into allegations a U.S.-based Islamic preacher has sympathisers in the armed forces, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“We have gotten tip-offs about more than 1,000 people [in the armed forces]. In connection with this, both an administrative investigation and an investigation by the General Staff’s military prosecutor have begun … An extensive investigation has been launched about the issue,” Yılmaz said, without detailing where the tip-offs originated from.
This is just the latest move against followers of Gülen, whose alleged followers have been pushed out of key posts in the judiciary and the police force amid a long-running feud with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Yılmaz also said that 73 officers, whose convictions for plotting Erdoğan’s overthrow were overturned, had now returned to their posts in the Turkish Armed Forces.
Those trials, beginning in 2007, were key in reducing the political influence of the army, which once wielded considerable power over elected officials.
Referred to by the government as the “parallel structure” or “parallel state,” the Fethullah Gülen community was recently designated an “illegal organization with a legal appearance,” and was added to Turkey’s national security threat book.
While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Gülen movement were once close allies, the relationship soured with the breaking of a corruption investigation targeting senior government figures in December 2013. The AKP denounced the probe as a “plot” to overthrow the government concocted by members of Güle’s alleged “parallel state.”
Since then, hundreds of police officers have been detained and judicial members reshuffled on charges of eavesdropping on Turkey’s top officials, disclosing sensitive information, forming and belonging to an organization to commit crime, violating privacy, illegally seizing personal information and forging official documents.