ANKARA/GENEVA (Reuters) - Turkish authorities detained 60 soldiers on Wednesday and issued detention orders for another 128 people in operations targeting the network of a Muslim cleric the government blames for last year’s failed coup, local media reported.
Some 50,000 people have been arrested since the failed putsch in July and around 150,000 dismissed or suspended, including soldiers, police, teachers and public servants, over alleged links with the movement of U.S-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Authorities detained the soldiers in raids focused on the central Turkish province of Konya and 32 other provinces, the Hurriyet daily said.
Separately, the state-run Anadolu Agency said detention orders had been issued for 128 people with ties to the publishing company Kaynak Holding, which was linked to the Gulen movement before authorities seized it.
Hundreds of firms like Kaynak, many of them smaller provincial businesses, were seized by authorities in the post-coup crackdown and are now run by government-appointed administrators.
Of the 128 people being sought, Anadolu said 39 people had been detained so far in an operation carried out in Istanbul and seven other provinces.
There was no official comment on the detentions.
On Tuesday, authorities detained the local chair of Amnesty International, Taner Kilic, and 22 other lawyers in the Aegean coastal province of Izmir for suspected links to Gulen’s network, the rights group said.
Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International, told Reuters in an interview that the organization was calling for the release of Taner and the 22 lawyers, and said they should be provided with the necessary legal support.
“It’s a very non-transparent operation the way in which they function,” he said, referring to Turkish authorities. “We don’t see a direct connection with Amnesty International on this issue, it’s a much broader problem.”
Shetty said it was not clear what evidence Turkish authorities had against Taner that would link him to Gulen’s network, but added Amnesty International was fighting the decision.
Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has denied involvement in the coup and condemned it.
The scope of the purges, which have also seen more than 130 media outlets shut down and some 150 journalists jailed, has unnerved rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies, who fear President Tayyip Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent and purge opponents.
Turkish officials, however, say the crackdown is necessary due to the gravity of the coup attempt which killed 240 people on July 15.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara and Tom Miles in Geneva; Editing by David Dolan and Adrian Croft