The new Turkey
Purges of the Gulen Movement

Timeline Gulen movement 2018 Timeline Gulen movement 2019


One-third of inmates in Ankara prisons affiliated with
the Gülen movement

Since May 2016, the Gülen movement has been classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey under the assigned names Gülenist Terror Organisation (Fethullahçı Terör Örgütü; abbreviation: FETÖ) and Parallel State Structure (Paralel Devlet Yapılanması; abbreviation: PDY).  After the failed coup attempt in 2016, the government of Turkey blamed the group for the coup attempt. Source

6 November 2019:

Presidential board vows to give no ground in fight against Gülen movement

Turkey’s newly established Presidential Higher Advisory Board led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has voiced its determination to continue with an unprecedented crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement without making any compromises, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Following a three-hour meeting at Erdoğan’s presidential palace in Ankara on Tuesday, the board released a statement in which it emphasized the importance of the continuation of the fight against the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016.

Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government label the movement as a terrorist organization named “Fetö,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

In its statement the board said compromises would never be made in the “decisive fight against Fetö, which is the culprit of the heinous July 15 coup attempt.” The board also said attitudes and actions that are likely to weaken the fight against the movement would never be allowed.

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight as a result of which more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 30,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.

The board, which was established by a presidential decree in May, comprises former AKP heavyweights who are no longer members of parliament such as Bülent Arınç, İsmail Kahraman, Mehmet Ali Şahin and Köksal Toptan.

In the meantime, Erdoğan at his party’s parliamentary group meeting earlier on Tuesday said he regrets recent remarks from Arınç, who described the post-coup government decrees as a “disaster.”

Arınç also apologized for the purge of the thousands of civil servants from their jobs.

“There are so many people around me who suffered this tragedy. I feel sorry for them, I have sympathy for them. I am actually apologizing to them. I feel so ashamed when I see the woman who comes to my house to clean because she was purged as the director [of a state agency]. A police officer whose spouse, a fellow police officer, was also purged,” he said.

5 November 2019

Turkey orders detention of 164 suspects in ongoing crackdown on Gülen movement

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday issued detention warrants for 164 suspects, including soldiers and scientists, in five separate investigations into followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused of masterminding a 2016 coup attempt despite its strong denials of any involvement.

Turkey has been conducting a large-scale crackdown targeting the movement, carrying out near-daily mass detentions across the country, since the abortive putsch. More than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 30,000 others are still in jail and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism.

The prosecutor’s office said it ordered the detention of 94 people suspected of using ByLock, a smartphone application that was believed to be used among followers of the Gülen movement. The state-run Anadolu news agency reported that at least 69 suspects were taken into police custody.

In two separate investigations Ankara police detained 26 suspects due to alleged Gülen links after the issuance of detention warrants for 18 former military members and 17 gendarmerie officers.

30 October 2019:

New operations target Gulen Movement's army network, fugitives

Authorities arrested 38 suspects in operations against the Gulen Movement (FETÖ) on Wednesday, including members of the group's secret network in the army and three others trying to flee Turkey

The Gulen Movement (FETÖ), which is implicated in the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, faced a new wave of operations on Wednesday. Authorities issued arrest warrants for 55 suspects and apprehended three others trying to flee to Greece from Turkey.

In the capital Ankara, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 55 people in an investigation into the group's network of infiltrators in the Turkish Air Forces. Thirty-five suspects were arrested and operations were underway to capture the others in operations in Ankara and 23 other cities.

FETÖ is accused of planting its members everywhere, from the police to the judiciary, the army and bureaucracy for years. Disguising their ties to the group, followers managed to rise to the top ranks. They became generals in the army and senior police chiefs. Through its "imams," FETÖ monitored the infiltrators and gave them orders.

23 October 2019:

34 Gulen Movement suspects caught in operations

Security forces arrested 34 out of 41 wanted suspects in an investigation into the Gulen Movement (FETÖ) on Wednesday. Prosecutors in the central city of Kayseri have issued arrest warrants earlier in the investigation into the terrorist group's "cells."

Operations were carried out in 15 cities to capture the suspects.
Among the detainees were soldiers, police officers and civil servants who were earlier expelled from their public sector jobs for suspected links to the group.

23 October 2019:

25 suspects arrested in anti-FETÖ operations

Police arrested 25 out of 60 wanted suspects in operations against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) on Tuesday.

Prosecutors in the central city of Konya had earlier issued arrest warrants for so-called "secret imams" of the group who were accused of acting as point men for the terrorist group's military infiltrators. Operations were carried out in Konya and 26 other cities to capture the suspects. Suspects were identified based on testimonies of former soldiers who were arrested in other operations against FETÖ. Authorities say FETÖ handlers worked on different capacities to command the military infiltrators. Some solely gave advice to them on how to cover their tracks while others gave instructions from senior cadres of FETÖ. Operations were underway to capture 35 other suspects. Read the full article

21 October 2019:

Probe discovers malicious FETÖ scheme to infiltrate Turkish military

Investigators in Istanbul have revealed that the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) used an ingenious way to dodge suspicion while infiltrating the Turkish army. The terrorist group is implicated in the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in which it employed its military infiltrators. A post-coup-attempt investigation by prosecutors in Istanbul uncovered that the terrorist group's military infiltrators assigned numbers for new recruits to the army to recognize them during interviews for enlisting soldiers.

Thus, a FETÖ-linked officer would recognize a potential recruit directed by FETÖ by his or her application number, despite having never met them. Twenty suspects who helped the group's infiltration have already been detained in the investigation.

The probe started when a former member of the terrorist group who collaborated with authorities cited the scheme to investigators. An in-depth probe showed that the group used a code system to connect military cadets to officers at a military school without them having to reveal their ties to FETÖ to each other, thus keeping infiltration confidential. Read the full article

Top ranking FETÖ suspect captured in overseas operation

Ahigh-ranking suspect acting as the so-called "imam" of Mexico for the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) Osman Karaca was arrested by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) overseas and brought to Turkey, security sources said on Saturday.

Karaca was arrested on charges of ''founding and masterminding an armed terrorist organization,'' said the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

22 September 2019:

Tens of thousands under confidential investigation over Gülen links

Turkish authorities are investigating a total of 152,399 people as suspects with links to Gülen movement, nationalist opposition daily Sözcü reported on Sunday. Ankara maintains the Gülen movement was behind a long-running scheme to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by infiltrating Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

New names will emerge as confessors' testimonies, ByLock and payphone investigations continue, Sözcü said. Turkish authorities believed an encrypted communication app called ByLock was used almost exclusively by the members of the Gülen movement. In the purge that followed the coup, many were detained purely because they were found to have the app on their phones. 

152,399 are under confidential investigation for alleged links to Gülen movement and the total number of people who are either on trial or investigated amounts to 221,966, according to Sözcü. Meanwhile, 29,202 have been behind the bars over the links to Gülen movement as of Sept. 13, 2019, the daily said. 6,502 are jailed pending trial while 22,700 are convicted.

11 September 2019:

Nationwide operations net suspects tied to the Gulen Movement

In a new wave of operations yesterday, 191 arrest warrants were issued for suspected members of the FETÖ terrorist group. Some 59 suspects have already been arrested in investigations into the group's role in the 2016 coup attempt

A new crackdown was launched against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) yesterday by prosecutors across the country. In operations that came three years after the group tried to seize power in a coup attempt, 191 arrest warrants were issued for suspected members of the terrorist group. Some 59 people were arrested when Daily Sabah went to print.

In three separate investigations in the capital Ankara, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 128 people. In one investigation, arrest warrants were issued for 50 active-duty noncommissioned officers of Gendarme General Command and three civilian "secret imams." Counterterrorism units from the Ankara police launched raids to detain the suspects but the number of detained is still unclear.

Prosecutors say the noncommissioned officers were in contact with "secret imams," a name given to civilian handlers for FETÖ's military infiltrators, usually via payphones. Communication via payphones is a common method employed by FETÖ to avoid detection. Since the 2016 coup attempt, prosecutors found that nearly 14,500 people used pay phones to communicate with senior members of FETÖ. Around 13,500 of them were arrested in over 800 operations across the country. Some 5,000 of the detainees have been remanded into custody, while nearly 8,500 suspects were released, including those under judicial control.

The terrorist group is known for its widespread infiltration of the army, law enforcement, judiciary and bureaucracy. It first attempted to overthrow the government in 2013 with its infiltrators in the judiciary and the Turkish National Police. It failed, and the group faced increased scrutiny. When the news broke that the military was preparing to launch a mass purge of FETÖ-linked officers in August 2016, the group moved to prevent it with the coup attempt that killed 251 people and injured about 2,200 others. Strong public resistance ultimately stopped the coup, and the coup's ringleaders, including generals, were arrested. Since then, tens of thousands of people linked to the group and the coup attempt have been detained or arrested, while trials were launched into the group's wrongdoings.

In another investigation, prosecutors in Ankara sought the arrests of 27 people from the Land Forces Command of the Turkish Army and two civilian imams. Among the suspects were three captains and 16 first lieutenants as well as lower-ranking officers. The suspects were discovered through their contact with their FETÖ handlers via payphones. Also in Ankara, authorities sought the arrest of 46 suspected users of ByLock, an encrypted messaging app developed and exclusively used by FETÖ members. Some 39 suspects were captured while a manhunt is still underway to capture the others. Another operation against ByLock users was carried out in the northern city of Samsun. Prosecutors ordered the arrest of nine suspects, including two teachers and seven people who worked at FETÖ-linked companies. The suspects were detained in operations in six cities.

A probe into ByLock started prior to the 2016 coup attempt. However, investigations gained significance after the attempt. Authorities deciphered messages revealing secret correspondents pointing to an imminent coup in operations after the coup bid. The Interior Ministry recently announced that 4,676 new ByLock users were detected in the investigation that already identified more than 95,000 users.

In the central city of Konya, arrest warrants were issued for 53 suspects accused of serving as handlers for FETÖ's military infiltrators. Ten suspects were detained, while operations are underway in 28 cities to capture the other suspects. The suspects were identified through interrogations of military personnel and FETÖ handlers who were detained in earlier operations. Prosecutors say the handlers had different positions within the terrorist group and each had "job titles" corresponding to their work with infiltrators. Some simply conveyed the FETÖ leadership's orders to infiltrators, while others helped infiltrators get promotions in the army or worked to recruit military cadets into the terrorist group. In the western city of Eskişehir, police captured Abdülkadir Ö., a former noncommissioned officer.

Abdülkadir was wanted for his role in the 2016 coup attempt. Authorities say the suspect is accused of supplying munitions to a team of putschist soldiers who tried to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during the coup bid. The suspect was stationed at an air base in the western city of İzmir when the coup attempt took place. An investigation found out that Abdülkadir was the officer who opened a military arsenal for the team of assassins who took off from the air base in helicopters and gave them munitions.

Erdoğan was on vacation in the southwestern resort town of Marmaris, which is located near İzmir, when the coup attempt broke out. He escaped the assassination attempt when he left his hotel just before the arrival of assassins and secretly flew to Istanbul where he mobilized the public to confront the putschists. Abdülkadir fled after the coup attempt was foiled and was hiding in a house in Eskişehir when he was captured. Gökhan Şahin Sönmezateş, the general who organized the assassination bid, and members of the team of assassins were sentenced to life in earlier trials on the coup attempt, while one member of the team still remains at large.

10 September 2019:

Staff recounts FETÖ putschists raid on TRT in trial

It was the turn of plaintiffs in a trial of the putschists who raided the public broadcaster TRT on July 15, 2016. The crew of the broadcaster testified on what happened when soldiers aligned with Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) stormed the broadcaster's headquarters in the capital Ankara in a trial in the Turkish capital yesterday.

Some 521 defendants are being tried in the Presidential Guard Regiment trial that is underway in Ankara. The members of the prestigious regiment are accused of attempting to take over TRT, where they tried to cut off the broadcast.

In yesterday's hearing, plaintiffs detailed how soldiers arrived to take over the TRT building as a coup was unfolding across Turkey on the orders of FETÖ leaders.

Emine Özlem Avcı was working at the TRT news department when she heard a noise in the production control room around 10 p.m. on July 15, 2016.

"I saw soldiers going upstairs to news studio and yelling the staff to lay down on the ground. We were taken to one floor below and soldiers told us that Daesh would carry out a terrorist attack. We were ordered to lay on the floor again. I saw some colleagues being handcuffed and soldiers told us not to raise our heads while on the ground. They were also talking about reading some sort of declaration. I could not see who was speaking. They later took us to another room on the upper floor while some were ordered to stay where they are. I was among nine people who were locked up in that room until after [the coup attempt] ended," Avcı told the court. Cumhur Kılıç was a chief technician working in a unit for broadcast transmission when the coup attempt took place. He was at night shift when he noticed transmission from TRT World, TRT Çocuk and TRT Müzik channels, which broadcast from Istanbul, were cut off.

"We tried to contact Istanbul but we couldn't. Lines were dead. Around 23:30, some people wearing military fatigues and some civilians came to my unit. A high-ranking officer was leading the group. He did not say anything other ‘You will receive orders from us from now on. Anyone disobeying will be punished,' he said. It was when I realized that this was a coup. All except a man in civilian clothes and a soldier left.

The civilian apparently knew about broadcast transmissions. They wanted us to connect TRT Haber (News) channel's broadcast to all other TRT channels. They wanted a simultaneous broadcast on all channels. I argued with them and tried to find excuses not to do what they wanted. At midnight, we saw a declaration of coup announced on TV," he told the court.

He added that the broadcast was cut off when the satellite provider TÜRKSAT shut down the transmission and it was only then that he found out that people opposing the coup were entering the TRT building. A strong public resistance ultimately foiled the putsch bid that killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200 others but putschists had succeeded in having a TV presenter they held at gunpoint to read the declaration of the coup in the name of their so-called Peace At Home Council.

20 June 2019:

Who are putschists slapped with heavy jail terms?

Nearly three years on, scores of convicts received heavy jail terms for their involvement in the defeated 2016 coup in Turkey. 

In the main trial of former general staff personnel, 224 defendants have been tried, including alleged members of the so-called "Peace at Home Council" -- a sub-group of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) -- which was meant to replace the government had the deadly putsch not been defeated.

On Thursday, 17 top putschists each faced 141 aggravated life sentences less than month before the third anniversary of the deadly July 15 coup attempt

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

Here are the main FETO convicts who received heavy jail terms: 

Akin Ozturk, former Air Force Commander General  

Ozturk, the key officer who plotted the coup from within the military, received a total of 141 aggravated life sentences.

Charges against Ozturk include violating the Constitution, attempted assassination of the president, trying to overthrow parliament, directing an armed terrorist group, mutiny, first-degree homicide, damaging public property, endangering public safety, harming houses of worship, and offenses against civil liberty.

Ozturk was charged with being a member of the FETO/PDY (Fetullah Gulen Terrorist Organization and Parallel State Structure) and a member of the so-called council.

The indictment also recounted a conversation when a person identified as Bayram Aktan asked then-Major Mehmet Akcara "Where is the commander?" referring to the loyalist Chief of General Staff General Hulusi Akar.

According to Aktan's statement, Akcara responded: "There is no commander. From now on Akin Ozturk is the commander." 

Former General Hakan Evrim, commander of Ankara's Akinci Main Jet Base

A member of the so-called "Peace at Home Council", Evrim was handed 141 aggravated life sentences for his involvement in the defeated coup.

He was the commander of Akinci Main Jet Base, which was used as headquarters during the attempt.

If the coup attempt had been successful, Evrim would have been slated to become the "Undersecretary of National Education".

Evrim asked then-Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar to speak with Gulen, whom he described as an "opinion leader", while holding Akar under detention with other pro-coup forces. 

Mehmet Disli, FETO’s coup director

Also a member of the putschist council, Mehmet Disli received 141 aggravated life sentences.

He was the head of the General Staff's Strategic Transformation Department with the rank of major-general until FETO's treacherous coup attempt.

Disli said he would ask Akar -- currently serving as defense minister -- to cooperate and lead the coup attempt, after having planned the attempted putsch with two other former officers in the General Staff headquarters. Had Akar accepted, Akin Ozturk would have been second-in-command.

After face-to-face meetings with other FETO-member soldiers in the headquarters, he entered Akar's office to tell the four-star general that an operation against the government was imminent, only to be vehemently rejected by Akar.

Unable to persuade Akar to lead the coup attempt, Disli ordered his accompanying soldiers to detain him.

Akar was later taken to the Akinci Base via military helicopter.

FETO soldiers who lost hope after realizing the putsch would fail were forced to release Akar. Seeing this as an opportunity, Disli rode in the same helicopter as Akar to former seat of the now-defunct prime ministry at the Cankaya Palace in Ankara.

He was subsequently exposed by Akar who met with then-Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and reported Disli’s suspicious behavior throughout the night. Afterwards, Disli was detained. 

Ilhan Talu, General Staff personnel chief

Among the members of the putschist council, Ilhan Talu, a former lieutenant general, was slapped with an aggravated life sentence for violating constitutional order.

He served as the General Staff personnel chief until the treacherous coup attempt of FETO. 

Talu guided Special Forces personnel to the hallway of the General Staff headquarters and mislead Yusuf Yalcin, a guard of the second chief, and Mehmet Satun, a sergeant on duty, by saying an exercise was being carried out. 

In a court hearing, he claimed he alerted the authorities who were not involved in the coup attempt on July 15 after learning that it was a coup bid led by FETO. 

Levent Turkkan, aide of former chiefs of general staff 

Turkan started to serve as the aide of the then-chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Ozel in 2011. After assuming the post, Turkkan started to receive secret missions from FETO. 

Turkkan had confessed he spied on Ozel during his post between 2011- 2015. 

Once General Hulusi Akar was appointed as the Chief of Staff, Turkkan said he stopped wire-tapping.

He proved his commitment to the FETO terror group during the coup attempt as being a part of the staff that entered Akar's room and gagged him.

After the thwarted coup bid, Turkkan said he surrendered to the military officials who turned him in to the police.

More than 30,000 arrested for Gulen movement links since the coup bid

The Interior Ministry announced Monday that 30,709 people have been taken into custody for their links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) since its members tried to seize power in a coup attempt in July 2016.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday in the capital Ankara, ministry spokesman İsmail Çataklı said security forces "processed" 511,646 people on FETÖ-related charges over three years following the coup attempt that killed 251 people. "The process" refers to detentions and investigations. A total of 30,709 among them were arrested and are still in custody awaiting hearings in their cases or the start of their trials. Çataklı said another 19,329 people were convicted of FETÖ membership and related crimes. "We continue our fight against FETÖ with determination," the spokesman added. Source

Interior minister says more than 500,000 detained, 30,000 arrested over Gülen links

Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on Wednesday night that more than 500,000 people have been detained while 30,000 others were sent to jail over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Soylu’s remarks came during an interview on the 24 TV station.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Soylu was responding to a question about main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s claim that ordinary and poor people were being sent to jail due to Gülen links.

“More than 500,000 detentions were made, and there are 30,000 in jail [due to Gülen links]. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu lacks the capacity to understand the severity of this [fight against the movement].

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight as a result of which more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs in addition to others facing legal action.

Turkey to launch major operation against Gülen movement: interior minister


Turkish informant says he fabricated stories on Gülen movement to avoid jail