Dozens arrested, sentenced in new wave of operations and trials against FETÖ

Dozens arrested, sentenced in new wave of operations and trials against FETÖ

The Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) faces a new crackdown with detention warrants for more than 100 people associated with the group. In nationwide operations, 56 out of 102 with detention warrants were captured on Monday. Most of the suspects were former and current members of the Turkish Armed Forces. FETÖ's military infiltrators are accused of carrying out the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that killed 250 people. Also on Monday, a court in the capital Ankara handed down prison terms to 115 defendants, including former members of the Turkish Air Force, for membership of the terrorist group.

The Chief Prosecutor's Office in Istanbul issued detention warrants for 89 suspects including serving and former military officers and "imams" or non-military handlers for the group's military infiltrators. Fifty-six suspects were detained and operations were underway when Daily Sabah went to print. Police raided locations across Turkey to capture the suspects. E.G., a colonel who was dismissed from the army for alleged FETÖ links, was among those captured in Istanbul. He was about to flee abroad by boarding a flight from Sabiha Gökçen airport when police detained him. Police also found an app used to remotely control smartphones launched on his cellphone at the time of detention, possibly to delete data regarding Falcon, an encrypted messaging app in E.G.'s phone. It was not clear whether the data was deleted when the suspect was captured. Police also found a large cache of U.S. dollars and euros in the residence of an on-duty colonel who was among the suspects. In another operation, a suspect wanted for FETÖ links was found hiding in the house of a former major detained in the operations.

In the capital Ankara, prosecutors issued detention warrants for 13 majors from the Turkish Land Forces for their links to FETÖ. Suspects included three serving officers. All were identified after they contacted their "imams" and ten among them had already been dismissed from the army for links to the terrorist group.

Also in Ankara, the 16th High Criminal Court handed down prison terms ranging from one year and three months to 8 years and 9 months to 115 defendants, on charges of membership of FETÖ. Defendants were mostly former members of Turkish Air Force and their "imams." They were arrested after the 2016 coup attempt though they were found not to have taken part in the coup attempt. The court handed down suspended sentences of one year to 17 other defendants who collaborated with authorities and gave crucial information regarding the terrorist group. A separate trial will be held for 35 other defendants who remain at large.

The state of emergency declared after the coup attempt sped up the crackdown on the terrorist group's infiltrators. Tens of thousands were detained or arrested and dismissed from their jobs in the public sector after the attempt. Some FETÖ members managed to flee abroad, while others are believed to still be hiding their ties to the group. Fetullah Gülen, the U.S.-based leader of the terrorist group, is known for instructing his followers to disguise themselves. Several former members confessed to authorities that senior figures of the group trained them on how to avoid being detected while serving in the army, law enforcement or judiciary. FETÖ claims to be an Islamic movement and was identified as such, still calling itself the "Hizmet" (Service) movement; thus, its infiltrators were told to abstain from anything that would associate them with Islam, such as prayers and wearing headscarves and urged to pretend to drink alcohol.

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