ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Twenty suspects including Turkish soldiers and a deputy governor were jailed pending trial on Thursday, accused of belonging to a “sleeper cell” to be activated if a July military coup attempt had been successful, state-run Anadolu Agency said.
The move followed Wednesday’s dismissal of 540 soldiers from the naval and forces command and the expulsion of 66 judges from their profession as the government presses a purge of the civil and security forces following the July 15 putsch.
Turkey enforced emergency rule and began dismissing, suspending and arresting state officials after the coup attempt in which rogue troops commandeered warplanes to bomb parliament and used tanks to kill 240 people, many of whom were civilians.
It says followers of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen staged the coup to overthrow President Tayyip Erdogan and seize control of the country. Gulen denies any involvement.
Turkey’s Western allies in the European Union and NATO have voiced concerns that innocent people may be swept up in the investigations. Some 32,000 people are in jail, and 100,000 members of the security and civil services, university professors and others have been fired or suspended.
The latest arrests, which included 16 active-duty soldiers, could raise more questions about the scope of the coup investigation because they target people who prosecutors argue did not have a role in the military intervention.
Rather, they were remanded in custody as they were “suspected of not assuming a duty in the July 15 coup attempt but disguising themselves to take action in the aftermath,” Anadolu reported.
Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Daren Butler and Ralph Boulton