The Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which perpetrated the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, faces a new crackdown. Yesterday, authorities issued arrest warrants for 106 people and have detained 62 suspects so far. The suspects were alleged matchmakers for members of the group in which marriage to one another is forced upon its followers. Meanwhile, a court in Ankara sentenced four defendants to six years and three months in prison for leaking Public Personnel Selection Exam (KPSS) questions seven years ago to members of the group. They were accused of helping the ubiquitous FETÖ widen its clout by having its members infiltrate state agencies through the exam for civil servants.
In Istanbul, police launched a joint operation with the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to identify FETÖ suspects who acted as matchmakers. After their IDs were deciphered with the decryption of ByLock, a messaging app used by the group, with the aid of MİT, police launched raids in Istanbul and 19 other cities. Authorities had arrest warrants for 106 suspects, and 62 people were detained when Daily Sabah went to print.
The terrorist group, which long posed as a religious charity, is known for its thorough intervention in the private lives of its members. Suspects detained previously and members who severed ties with FETÖ had confessed that the elders, the group's members in higher ranks, ordered them to marry people they picked for them in a bid to prevent leaking the group's secrets. Investigations after last year's coup attempt revealed that FETÖ even prepared catalogues of women particularly for its infiltrators in the judiciary, military, law enforcement and bureaucracy. Although members who are not specifically picked to infiltrate a public agency were free to marry anyone, FETÖ members serving as judges in high courts or high-ranking military officers recruited by the group were banned from marrying someone FETÖ did not approve of, former members say.
The group's infiltration in key institutions, such as the bureaucracy and military, was realized through different methods, and the KPSS exam was one of the ways to access posts in the public sector. This civil servant exam, which millions of people take, was tainted by cheating allegations in 2010. FETÖ members were accused of leaking questions and answers to participants linked to the group. The Second High Criminal Court in Ankara sentenced four people involved in leaking questions to six years and three months in prison each on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. Judges said Ayşe Hançerkınar, Yaşire Taşçı, Sadiye Coşar and Derya Altan were members of the group and also handed down an additional three years and one month in prison for Hançerkınar and Altan for defrauding public agencies as they were also assigned to civil servant posts thanks to cheating. The defendants are among 1,133 suspects in 557 lawsuits on KPSS fraud by FETÖ. The first ruling for KPSS trials was in July. Three suspects, including the former staff of a state-run authority tasked with organizing the exam, were sentenced to 14 years in prison for membership in a terrorist group, forging official documents and fraud.
Since the coup attempt in 2016, tens of thousands of suspects have been detained or arrested for their links to the group, and a large number of people have been dismissed from their public sector jobs for association with FETÖ and are currently on trial. Meanwhile, trials related to the coup attempt are underway across the country, and putschist troops face life imprisonment for their involvement in the coup attempt.