Last update: 09-Jul-2020
Turkey shot itself in the foot by purging the bulk of its F-16 pilots
Turkey finds itself in the unenviable position of having almost nobody to fly its 245-strong fleet of F-16s after purging its air force of qualified pilots in the wake of a failed coup in 2016, according to a piece by Michael Peck in The National Interest published on Monday.
Citing the extremely high cost of training fighter pilots, Peck says that “… a nation that throws its fighter pilots in jail is not just wasting money, but also an extremely valuable resource. Yet in the name of politics, Turkey’s government has purged its air force so badly that it can barely fly its F-16 fighters.”
Turkey has been looking overseas for help in making up the shortfall in qualified pilots, but Washington rejected a request to provide flight instructors, and US arms export rules could be violated by having Pakistan train Turkish pilots. “In a sign of desperation, ‘the Turkish government has issued a decree that threatens 330 former pilots with the revocation of their civil pilot license, unless they return to Air Force duty for four years’ …” Peck says, citing an Atlantic Council report, adding that a return to service could impact unit morale. ›Read the full article
Turkish court upholds prison sentence for main opposition Istanbul chair Kaftancıoğlu
An appeals court in Ankara has upheld a prison sentence for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul provincial chairwoman Canan Kaftancıoğlu, on charges including terrorist propaganda and insulting the president, Habertürk reported on Tuesday.
Kaftancıoğlu was sentenced to nine years, eight months and 20 days in prison in September of 2019 on a string of charges, including "insulting the president," "inciting people to animosity and hatred," and "conducting propoganda for a terrorist organisation."
The Istanbul provincial head became a rising star in the opposition after the March 31 local elections, and is credited as the person behind the CHP's victory in Istanbul, which had been controlled by Islamist parties since 1994.
The ruling arrives on the anniversary of a revote in Istanbul after the ruling Justice and Development Party contested the initial polls. Kaftancıoğlu may appeal the decision with the Supreme Court.
Turkey suspends main opposition CHP mayor in northwestern province of Balıkesir
The Turkish Interior Ministry has dismissed a main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) mayor in the northwestern province of Balıkesir after a court upheld a jail sentence on charges of tender corruption. The dismissal of Erdek mayor Hüseyin Sarı follows the approval of a one-month, 15-day jail sentence over two separate cases of corruption in municipal tenders, Birgün newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The court in the northwestern town of Bandırma ruled that Sarı had “intentionally prevented free competition in both tenders and ensured the tenders took place with only one participant,” Birgün said.
This is not Sarı’s first removal from the mayoral seat. In March of 2019, the CHP mayor was sentenced to 11 months and 20 days in prison for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, prompting the Interior Ministry to suspend him from his post. Sarı was re-elected as mayor of Erdek in the local elections of March 2019, receiving 52 percent support.
Turkey arrests 438 detainees in İzmir-based probes into military members in last 7 months
Turkish courts in the past half year have arrested 438 suspects out of 847 detainees who were taken into police custody in six separate investigations into the Gülen movement, which is accused of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt despite its strong denial of any involvement.
The detentions were conducted between November and June, with the İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office’s issuance of detention warrants for 928 suspects, including 631 active duty military members, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
The other suspects include former soldiers and former military cadets. The prosecutors charged the suspects with membership in the movement, seeking their detention even though they did not participate in the abortive putsch.
Turkey orders detention of 174 active duty soldiers, 174 others in post-coup crackdown
Turkish prosecutors on Tuesday ordered the detention of 348 people as part of a post-coup crackdown targeting the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused of orchestrating an abortive putsch in 2016 despite its strong denial of any involvement. The detention orders mainly targeted military members, with 174 of the suspects active duty soldiers and 107 retired soldiers and former military cadets.
The İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered the detention of 167 people, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. At least 100 of the suspects were detained in police raids in 56 provinces, the report indicated. Prosecutors in İstanbul and Çanakkale issued detention warrants for 114 active duty and retired military members over alleged Gülen links.
Since the coup attempt, nearly 20,000 soldiers have been dismissed from the Turkish Armed Forces, according to the defense ministry. Meanwhile, police in Ankara and Balıkesir raided residences following the issuance of detention warrants for 67 people who are accused of membership in the Gülen movement.
Arrest warrants out for FETÖ terror suspects across Turkey
Turkish security authorities on Tuesday launched multiple operations in various provinces to arrest terror suspects affiliated with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) which is behind the bloody failed coup attempt of 2016.
Prosecutors issued arrest warrants for a total of 191 suspects, including 181 on-duty members of the Turkish air force, and security forces launched Izmir-based simultaneous operations in 22 provinces. Security sources also announced that 145 of the suspects were arrested.
Separately, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for a total of 44 suspects, including eight on-duty members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), and security forces launched Istanbul-based simultaneous operations in eight provinces. Security sources said 33 of the suspects were arrested.
Prosecutors in the capital Ankara also issued arrest warrants for a total of 32 suspects, including 13 on-duty members of the Turkish air force. Security sources announced that 25 of the suspects were arrested in simultaneous operations in 14 provinces. In another Ankara-based operation, prosecutors also issued arrest warrants for eight suspects, including an on-duty member of the Turkish Gendarmerie General Command (JGK).
More than 100 arrested in nationwide FETÖ operations
Turkish police on Friday arrested at least 94 people for suspected ties to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup attempt against the Turkish government.
Prosecutors in the Aegean province of Izmir issued warrants for 31 suspects accused of using ByLock, an encrypted messaging app developed and exclusively used by FETÖ members, according to authorities.
FETÖ, known for its secretive methods of communication, utilized everything from in-game chats in mobile games to payphones to convey messages between its members. ByLock is the most well-known app used by FETÖ members, and its use was discovered before the 2016 coup attempt.
The suspects were caught in 27 simultaneous operations across the city, authorities said, adding that a total of nearly $100,000 (nearly TL 677,000) was seized in various currencies, which was suspected to be used for funding the terrorist group.
Prosecutors in the capital Ankara issued arrest warrants for 37 other suspects in a similar probe. The authorities said suspects were arrested in early morning raids, with more than $40,000 seized in one of the suspects’ homes. The suspects are being charged with membership to an armed terrorist group.
Elsewhere, 26 suspects were arrested in the southern Mersin province. According to a statement by Mersin prosecutors, the suspects were arrested for being members of the civilian branch of the terrorist organization.
In the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, prosecutors also ordered the arrest of 18 active military personnel in a case regarding the terrorist group's infiltration into the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). The authorities said 15 of the suspects were captured, and a manhunt was underway to find the remaining three.
The terrorist group is known for its widespread infiltration of the army, law enforcement, the judiciary and bureaucracy. In December 2013, its members in the police force and courts attempted to topple the government under the guise of a graft probe targeting government officials. It was the first time the terrorist group openly waged war against the government using its infiltrators.
When it failed, they made another attempt on July 15, 2016, employing infiltrators in the TSK to seize power by force. A total of 251 people were killed and nearly 2,200 others were injured in FETÖ's bloodiest attempt to date. What followed was a barrage of investigations against the terrorist group. Turkey lifted the state of emergency imposed after the coup attempt but three years on, operations continue against FETÖ.
13 arrested in operations against FETÖ in Turkey
Turkish security forces rounded up 13 suspects in operations in seven cities against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) on Wednesday.
Prosecutors in the central city of Konya issued arrest warrants for 20 suspects including active-duty soldiers linked to the terrorist group behind the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Suspects were part of a secret military network and were identified through their contacts with the terrorist group’s handlers through payphones. A manhunt is underway to capture the seven suspects.
The Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday that 4,562 soldiers were dismissed from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) for their suspected links to FETÖ since a state of emergency, which was imposed after the putsch, was lifted in July 2018
Over 4,000 military personnel expelled since Turkey’s 2018 lifting of state of emergency
Turkey expelled over 4,00 military personnel from its army and stripped 531 retired soldiers of their ranks after the country’s two-year state of emergency was lifted in 2018, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.
A total of 4,562 personnel have been expelled from the Turkish Armed Forces on the approval of the Defence Minister Hulusi Akar since the end of the state of emergency, which Turkey’s government launched after the failed 2016 coup attemp, the agency said.
"As with all terrorist organisations, our fight against FETÖ continues with determination," Anadolu quoted Akar as saying, in reference to the Gülen movement. “We are working closely with judicial and intelligence agencies.”
Turkish authorities have carried out a sustained crackdown on alleged followers of U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen since Turkey’s failed 2016 coup in July 2016. The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of staging the failed putsch, leading to the dismissal of over 19,000 military personnel, according to official records, over alleged ties with the organisation. Read the full artile
Turkish military has purged 19,495 members since 2016 coup attempt
A total of 19,495 military members have been purged from the Turkish Armed Forces since a failed 2016 coup, the defense ministry said on Friday, according to the Turkish media. Turkey accuses the faith-based Gülen movement of orchestrating the abortive putsch, although it strongly denies any involvement.
The dismissals from the military are mainly executed over alleged ties to the movement. The Turkish government has purged some 130,000 civil servants since the coup attempt.
Ministry says more than 5,000 TSK members under investigation over Gülen links
The Turkish Defense Ministry has announced that there are ongoing investigations into 5,034 members and staff of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, which is accused by the government of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016, according to local media reports.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
According to information from the ministry, a total of 19,397 members of the armed forces, including officers and civilian personnel, have been discharged due to Gülen links since the failed coup.
Following the coup attempt, the government launched a massive crackdown on followers of the Gülen 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.
Prosecuted Turkish journalists may be spared jail under new law, columnist says
A bill designed to release tens of thousands of prisoners proposed by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) may also spare journalists from being jailed for insulting the president, Hürriyet columnist Abdülkadir Selvi wrote on Thursday.
Several journalists in Turkey have been sentenced to prison on charges of insulting the president, which carries a sentence of between one and four years, while more still face similar charges. "A regulation is on the agenda for journalists and intellectuals who receive prison sentences for insults, so they can spend it by doing community service instead of going to jail," said Selvi, a columnist known for his sources in the ruling party.
The bill seeks to release a large number of people held in Turkish prisons, but excludes those found guilty of terrorism and first-degree murder. This means the new law excludes journalists, opposition politicians, human rights defenders and dismissed public officials jailed for links to what Turkey calls terrorist organisations.
Turkey detains 5 more Kurdish mayors amid widening crackdown against HDP
Turkish authorities detained the mayors of five municipalities in Kurdish-majority areas on Monday as part of a widening government crackdown on the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the party’s co-leader said, according to Reuters.
Mithat Sancar told reporters security forces had besieged municipal buildings in the southeastern province of Batman as well as those in the Egil, Silvan, Lice and Ergani districts of Diyarbakir province on Monday morning.
He said five co-mayors in four municipalities were detained. He did not give details about the mayor of Lice but said another co-mayor who had previously been dismissed was also being held.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government accuse the HDP of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, leading to prosecutions of thousands of its members and some leaders. The HDP denies such links.
The HDP appoints one male and one female as mayor to promote gender equality, calling them co-mayors, although only one is recognized by the central government.
Sancar said the measures on Monday morning were similar to those taken when Ankara appointed trustees in other municipalities, adding that the party had not received official notification from the central government.
“We reject this vile attempt that displays enmity against Kurds even in these difficult days when the whole world is battling an epidemic,” he said.
The Interior Ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Ankara has appointed trustees to 31 municipalities won by the HDP in the March 2019 local elections, an HDP source said, adding that 21 co-mayors had been formally arrested so far, in addition to the six detained on Monday.
The former co-leaders of the HDP have both been jailed since 2016 on terrorism charges, with several other prominent members accused of supporting terrorism over what the government says are links to the PKK.
4 March 2020:
Turkey orders detention of 115 suspects as part of post-coup Gülen crackdown
Turkish prosecutors in İzmir, Adana and Bolu have ordered the detention of 115 suspects as part of a large-scale crackdown targeting followers of the Gülen movement, which is accused of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt despite its strong denial of any involvement.
The state-run Anadolu news agency reported that İzmir prosecutors on Wednesday issued detention warrants for 31 people over Gülen links. The chief public prosecutor’s office said the suspects are accused of rigging a police entrance exam in 2009.
Teachers, businessmen and lawyers were among the suspects in addition to former police officers.İzmir police, meanwhile, detained 53 suspects as part of Gülen-linked investigations. In Adana and Bolu provinces, a total of 31 suspects were sought by prosecutors in Gülen-related probes. Twenty-two of the suspects in Adana were former police officers.
Latest figures show 26,862 people in jail over Gülen links
According to the latest figures, 26,862 people are in jail due to links to the Gülen movement, which is accused of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt despite its strong denial of any involvement. Officials from Turkey’s Justice Ministry told BBC Turkish service that as of Feb. 19 nearly 5,000 of them had been sentenced to prison, while the remainder are in pretrial detention.
Meanwhile, prosecutors are pursuing 69,701 investigations in which 135,708 suspects are accused of membership in the movement. In addition 42,717 trials are pending that involve 60,167 defendants accused of Gülen links.
Mass detentions in ongoing investigations are continuing on a nearly daily basis with hundreds of people detained last week, according to the report.
As part of a global crackdown targeting Gülen followers, Turkey has requested the extradition of 750 people from 101 countries, the ministry said, adding that various countries have already denied requests for 74 of them. The ministry has also applied to Interpol for the issuance of red notices for 555 suspec
Turkey arrests 203 suspects in operations against Gulen movement
Authorities issued arrest warrants for 237 people associated with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) on Tuesday. At least 203 suspects were arrested in nationwide operations while a manhunt is underway to capture the suspects at large.
The largest operations were based in İzmir, a western Turkish city where FETÖ's fugitive leader Fetullah Gülen once attracted large masses to his sermons while he was working as a preacher. Prosecutors in the city issued arrest warrants for 176 people, including active-duty soldiers and soldiers retired or dismissed from the army on suspicion of links to the terrorist group, which was behind the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Police launched operations in 49 provinces to capture the suspects, 115 of whom were arrested. Media reports say among the wanted suspects were six F-16 fighter jet pilots and four commanders of gendarme garrisons in towns.
In the capital Ankara, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 31 suspects in a probe on FETÖ's mass infiltration into the Turkish Land Forces. Twenty-two suspects, including non-commissioned officers and four civilian handlers controlling terrorist group's military network, were arrested in operations in 10 cities. Another 14 suspects out of 30 with outstanding arrest warrants were detained in operations based in the central city of Konya. Most of them were active-duty soldiers.
In the Black Sea province of Trabzon, authorities issued arrest warrants for 10 suspects and all were captured in operations in Trabzon and five other cities. Police also detained 30 suspects linked to the terrorist group after prosecutors in the northwestern province of Kocaeli issued arrest warrants. Suspects were employees of courthouses and prisons.
Meanwhile, gendarme units in the northwestern city of Edirne arrested two FETÖ suspects who were attempting to sneak into Greece.
FETÖ posed as a religious group for years under the leadership of Gülen before it disclosed its true intention – to topple the government and create chaos in the country – in 2013 with two plots targeting people close to the government. Turkey managed to stave off these attempts and launched operations against the group, which was designated as a national security threat. In 2016, the terrorist group tried to seize power again, this time by staging a coup attempt with the aid of its infiltrators in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). This attempt was quelled too, and the group faced heightened scrutiny. Police have launched countless operations against the group since the 2016 coup attempt that killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200 others. Hundreds of military infiltrators were discovered and arrested in investigations while tens of thousands were arrested for links to the group.
The state of emergency declared after the coup attempt sped up the crackdown on the terrorist group's infiltrators. Some FETÖ members managed to flee abroad, while others are believed to still be hiding their ties to the group. Several former members confessed to authorities that senior figures of the group trained them on how to avoid being detected while serving in the army, law enforcement or judiciary.
13 February 2020:
Turkey seeks arrest of 467 people for links to Gülen movement
Turkish prosecutors ordered the arrest of 467 people to face charges of links to an outlawed Islamist group accused of attempting to carry out a coup in July 2016, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday.
The authorities said the warrants were ordered when an ongoing crackdown on the Gülen movement revealed that suspects were involved in irregularities during police promotional exams in 2009, according to Anadolu. Eight suspects have been detained so far in simultaneous operations across 67 provinces, the agency said.
Turkey blames U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen and his followers for the 2016 failed coup, and has since sacked hundreds of thousands of public officials and army personnel in a series of purges.
24 January 2020:
40 police officers detained over alleged Gülen links
Turkish law enforcement on Friday detained 40 police officers as part of an investigation into alleged Gülen movement followers in the police force, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
The officers were detained following raids in Ankara, Konya, Gaziantep, Kayseri, Adıyaman, Adana, Trabzon, Yozgat and Bursa provinces. Ten other police officers face detention as part of the same investigation, according to Anadolu.
Since the failed coup, more than 130,000 civil servants have been removed from their jobs by the Turkish government while more than 30,000 people are still in jail due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.More than 33,000 members of the police force have been removed from their jobs due to their alleged Gülen links since the coup attempt
Detention warrants issued for 22 including former police officers over Gülen links
Turkish prosecutors have issued detention warrants for 22 people including former police officers over alleged links to the Gülen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup in July 2016 despite its strong denial of any involvement, according to Turkish media reports.
The detention warrants were issued by the Adana Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office as part of an investigation into alleged Gülen movement followers. Some of the individuals were detained by police teams on Tuesday following simultaneous police raids on addresses in Adana, İstanbul, Osmaniye and Isparta provinces.
The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Since the failed coup, more than 130,000 civil servants have been removed from their jobs by the Turkish government while more than 30,000 people are still in jail due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.
2 January 2020: