Thirty-nine suspects linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) were detained yesterday in nationwide operations, while Osman Kavala, a businessman known for his work in a nongovernmental organization, was formally arrested.
The operations were carried out in 17 provinces, including Ankara and western İzmir province after the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office issued arrest warrants for 111 suspects.
The Istanbul-based operations were conducted as part of a probe into managers, members and employees of the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF), whose honorary president was FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen. The organization was shut down following last year's unsuccessful July 15 coup attempt that left 249 people killed and hundreds of others injured. According to prosecutors, FETÖ infiltrators in the military carried out the coup attempt masterminded by non-military figures of the terrorist group. Turkey also blames FETÖ for being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Kavala, a prominent businessman who serves as a board member for the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) think tank, was also arrested yesterday. Kavala was detained at Istanbul's Atatürk International Airport on Oct. 18. Prosecutors charged him in a case concerning the 2013 Gezi Park protests, plots by FETÖ and last year's coup attempt. He could receive a life sentence on charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and the government if found guilty.
Prosecutors claim Kavala was the mastermind of the 2013 riots in Istanbul. The PKK and Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) had infiltrated peaceful activists protesting the redevelopment of Gezi Park and several were injured and killed in nationwide riots. Kavala was photographed helping rioters in a widely shared image of the businessman. Prosecutors also say that Kavala had close ties with Henri Barkey, one of the alleged masterminds of the coup attempt according to the indictment against the suspect. The same probe netted Metin Topuz, a longtime employee of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, after prosecutors discovered his intimate ties with dozens of police officers and police chiefs associated with FETÖ. Topuz's detention on Oct. 4 sparked a crisis between Turkey and the United States, which responded in the suspension of non-immigrant visa services at U.S. missions in Turkey and Turkish visas for U.S. nationals
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