Police captured Tuesday 21 out of 30 wanted suspects linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). All suspects were former staff at now-defunct Gülhane Military Medicine Academy (GATA), a renowned military hospital and are accused of helping the fugitive members of the group blamed for July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office investigating the suspects discovered that doctors and other healthcare personnel wanted for links to the group, helped other fugitives in need of treatment and arranged surgery for pregnant members at private hospitals. The suspects helped others dodge authorities by not recording hospital admissions for pregnant Gülenists.
The suspects were identified when police recently detained İ.Ş., a suspect whose initials were given by security sources. İ.Ş. was in charge of FETÖ infiltrators in GATA and investigators found a database hidden in a gaming app on his cellphone. The database, accompanied by exchanges of hundreds of messages, disclosed the network of infiltrators and how they received instructions from senior cadres of the terrorist group. Notes found in İ.Ş.'s cellphone also showed Gülenists tracked members after their release from prison to make sure they did not collaborate with authorities in investigations against FETÖ.
In related news, police in Edirne, a northwestern city bordering with Greece, captured three fugitive FETÖ suspects planning to flee to Greece Tuesday. The two suspects were a colonel and a major dismissed from the army for their links to the terrorist group while the third was the wife of a fugitive colonel linked to the group.
Greece has turned into a haven for Gülenists after eight putschists involved in the 2016 coup attempt went there. The putschist soldiers who were involved in the coup attempt in Istanbul hijacked a military helicopter and landed in Greece's Alexandroupolis seeking asylum. They were tried by a court in Athens and subsequently released, to the chagrin of Ankara. One among them was granted asylum, while the others are waiting for the ultimate decision of Greek authorities in a safe house under police protection.
Encouraged by the Greek court's decision that defied multiple extradition requests for putschist soldiers, FETÖ members started trickling into Greece. Turkish border patrols have stopped more than 250 FETÖ members in the past two years as they tried to cross into Greece via the Meriç (Evros) River that divides the land border of the two countries. Security measures are already tight across the border, which is also the scene of attempts by illegal migrants from other countries who try to reach Europe.
FETÖ, which expanded its clout in Turkey over the past three decades, is known for its wide network of infiltrators in law enforcement, the military, judiciary and bureaucracy. A 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.