Turkey seeks 191 soldiers for alleged tie to US-based cleric

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish prosecutors issued warrants Tuesday for the detention of 191 suspects — including 181 on-duty servicemen — who are suspected of involvement in a scheme that allegedly recruited followers of the U.S.-based Muslim cleric blamed for a failed coup in 2016 into air force training schools, the state-run news agency reported.

Anadolu Agency said the suspects are accused of cheating during air force schools’ entrance examinations between 2004-2016 that favored candidates with links to cleric Fethullah Gulen. At least 145 of the suspects were detained in raids in western Izmir province and 22 other provinces.

The suspects include 173 sergeants, six lieutenants, two first lieutenants, eight former sergeants and two former cadets, Anadolu said.

Turkey is still chasing alleged members of Gulen’s network, four years after the coup attempt.

Tuesday’s warrants were issued amid an apparent new drive against Gulen’s network after Turkey eased lockdowns to fight the coronavirus outbreak on June 1. Dozens of security force members were detained in similar raids across Turkey on Monday.

The government claims that Gulen’s followers infiltrated key state institutions over the years, including the military, the police and the judiciary. The military says more than 19,500 personnel have been sacked for alleged links to Gulen since the coup attempt.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies any involvement in the coup attempt, which left 250 people dead.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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