Turkey seeks arrest of 360 more military personnel in post-coup crackdown

Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for 360 suspected supporters of cleric Fethullah Gulen in the army, state media reported. Thousands of people have been rounded up in the wake of last year's coup attempt.

Istanbul police launched an operation on Wednesday to capture 333 more soldiers, most of them on active duty, as well as 27 civilians, Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The 360 individuals are suspected of having links to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen. Turkey's government has claimed the cleric and his network of followers orchestrated last year's failed coup — allegations Gulen denies.

The state-run news agency reported that the civilian suspects are accused of acting as so-called "secret imams," who allegedly directed Gulen allies within the military.  

Read more: Hundreds of Turkish officials seek asylum in Germany

Law and Justice | 28.02.2017

Wide-reaching crackdown

More than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial as part of Ankara's massive post-coup purge. An additional 120,000 people have been fired or suspended from the military, police and bureaucracy for suspected ties to the Gulen movement.

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The crackdown has drawn criticism from rights groups and Turkey's allies in the West, who fear the 2016 coup is being used to justify a campaign to stifle dissent.

Turkey says its actions are necessary to counter the threat posed by Gulen's network, which it accuses of creating a "parallel state structure" over decades, infiltrating the military, police, judiciary, media and other institutions. Ankara has urged the United States to extradite Gulen so that he can face trial in Turkey.


Jovial gestures belie multiple disputes

May 16: Trump welcomes Erdogan to Washington's Oval Office, saying both presidents have a "great relationship" and would make it "even better." Erdogan congratulates Trump on his "legendary" 2016 election win but complains bitterly about US arming of the Kurdish YPG militia, claiming that its inclusion in the US-led campaign against IS in in war-torn Syria provides a cover for Kurdish separatism.


Melee becomes further irritant

May 17: As Erdogan ends his visit, Voice of America video footage emerges showing his guards assaulting Kurdish protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington. A month later, US authorities issue arrest warrants for 12 members of Erdogan's security detail, who had long returned to Turkey. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the assaults breached "legitimate" free speech.


First anniversary of coup attempt

July 15: President Erdogan, his wife Emine and Turkish parliament speaker Ismail Kahraman recall the failed 2016 coup attempt that left some 250 people dead, including Erdogan's campaign manager, Erol Elcok. In a post-coup bid crackdown 50,000 people were arrested, accused of links to the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, an Erdogan ally turned rival. Tens of thousands more face job suspensions.


Turkey 'uneasy' about US arming of Kurdish militia

August 23: US Defense Secretary James Mattis visits Ankara as the Pentagon stresses US commitment to bilateral relations and "honest dialogue." Mattis had just visited Iraq to assess the anti-IS campaign. Erdogan tells Turkish media that Turkey will thwart any attempt by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) to establish a "terror corridor" in northern Syria through to the Mediterranean.


Turkey-based US pastor still under arrest

August 24: Turkey issues a fresh arrest order against Turkey-based American pastor Andrew Brunson, who's been in detention since late 2016. The pro-government newspaper Sabah says Brunson faces charges of attempting to overthrow parliament and espionage. On September 29, Erdogan offers to swap Brunson for Gulen. In a rebuff, the US State Department calls again for the pastor's release.


Turkey arrests US consulate employee

October 5: Turkish authorities arrest Metin Topuz, a Turkish national employed at the US consulate in Istanbul. He is formally charged with espionage and collaboration in the 2016 coup attempt. The US embassy in Ankara subsequently says it is "deeply disturbed" by the arrest. It's reportedly the second since March, when a Turkish US consulate employee was arrested in Adana.


US and Turkey suspend their respective visa services

October 8-9: The United States suspends its issuance of non-immigrant visa applications to Turkish nationals, saying it has to "reassess" Turkish readiness to respect security at US diplomatic missions. Turkey suspends its visa services for US nationals and summons another staffer at the US consulate in Istanbul.


Attempts to make amends

November 6: The US Embassy in Ankara announces that it is reinstating its visa program for Turkish tourists on a "limited" basis after receiving assurances from the government that no employees will be detained "for carrying out official duties." Shortly thereafter, Turkey confirms that it is also resuming visa services for US citizens one day before Prime Minister Yildirim visits Washington.

nm/sms (Reuters, AP)

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