Turkey has issued arrest warrants for a further 1,112 people with suspected connections to the outlawed Gülenist movement, as the impact of the 2016 failed military coup continues to reverberate around the country.
The operation announced on Tuesday by Turkey’s state-run news agency is one of the biggest to date targeting followers of cleric Fethullah Gülen, a former ally of president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan now living in self-imposed exile in the US, whom Ankara blames for the coup attempt.
A “big operation” was looming against Gülen supporters, the interior minister Süleyman Soylu said on Sunday. “We will finish them off,” he said.
Since the failed 2016 coup at least 77,000 people have been arrested and around 130,000 others have been dismissed from state jobs in the police force, judiciary, academia and other public sector jobs as the Turkish government seeks to purge state institutions of what it says are Gülenist efforts to create a “parallel state”.
Hundreds of private companies have been closed or have passed into de facto control of the government, and almost all of the country’s media now closely toes the pro-government line.
The new arrests were issued as part of an investigation into the alleged rigging of exams in 2010 for police officers seeking promotion to the rank of deputy inspector, Anadolu Agency reported. Prosecutors said Gülen’s followers were given questions in advance.
Arrests were mostly focused on the capital, Ankara, although 124 people have been detained so far across 76 provinces, the Ankara chief prosecutor’s office said.
It was not immediately clear how many of those targeted are currently serving police officers.
Gülen has denied involvement in the July 2016 coup attempt by rogue elements of the military in which Turkish commandos attacked a holiday resort where Erdoğan was staying. The president escaped to Istanbul but 250 people died in the ensuing chaos.
Turkey has faced resistance from Washington in its repeated requests for the cleric’s extradition from his Pennsylvania home.
Critics say Erdoğan used a two-year state of emergency imposed after the coup as an excuse to stifle opposition to his increasingly consolidated control of the country.
Many of those powers were consequently incorporated into new presidential executive powers after a 2017 referendum on constitutional changes which Amnesty International says was conducted in an “atmosphere of fear”.