In the last 10 months, 60 members of the group behind last year's defeated coup in Turkey have been captured trying to illegally enter Greece and Bulgaria. All were apprehended in the northwestern province of Edirne.
Turkish border guards are on duty 24 hours a day in a restricted military zone to prevent irregular migration and the passage of terror suspects.
FETÖ is accused of orchestrating multiple coup attempts in Turkey, and its members face terrorism charges. The group runs a global network of schools and companies spanning the U.S. to Asia. Turkey has renewed efforts to extradite FETÖ suspects from abroad following last year's coup attempt. In May, Malaysia deported three suspects linked to the terrorist group.
High-ranking members of the terrorist group, including leader Fetullah Gülen, were already abroad while those in the lower ranks fled the country after its brutal coup attempt was suppressed. The Interpol liaison office of the Turkish police is spearheading efforts to bring back FETÖ members from abroad. The cross-border fight against FETÖ involves efforts by the Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry in cooperation with police and intelligence services. The ministries have pursued intense diplomatic efforts, presenting evidence of the terrorist group's involvement in the coup attempt. Ankara vowed to bring every FETÖ suspect to justice in the aftermath of the coup attempt that laid bare just how desperate the terrorist group was to seize power in the face of the crackdown against it.
Since the coup attempt in 2016, thousands of suspects have been detained or arrested for their links to the group while a large number of people have been dismissed from their public sector jobs for association with FETÖ and are on trial. Meanwhile, trials over the coup attempt are underway across the country and putschist troops face life imprisonment for involvement in the coup attempt.
In yesterday's hearings, defendants testified in Ankara about the attempt to take over the Office of Chief of General Staff, which serves as the military headquarters in Ankara, and attempted takeover of police headquarters in Istanbul during the coup attempt. Defendants denied charges and claimed they were not aware of a coup attempt when they were ordered to go to the military and police headquarters to protect them against terrorist attacks. In a trial in Istanbul, Lt. Col. Fatih Sönmez, accused of firing on anti-coup civilians confronting them, denied the charges. Sönmez claimed he was there to prevent a possible terrorist attack on the police headquarters and denied he was among the soldiers who fired on civilians. He also branded the unarmed civilians who gathered to convince soldiers to lay down their arms as provocateurs, to the chagrin of those watching hearing. A man injured by gunfire, allegedly by Sönmez, shouted at him: "Who shot me then?"
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