The number of members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) who sought to flee Turkey but were stopped on the border reached 546 in three years, a report by state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) indicates.
Since a coup attempt by FETÖ's military infiltrators was suppressed in 2016, FETÖ members increasingly sought to flee the country through its border with Greece. Border troops in Edirne province at the gateway of Greece intercepted them before they reached the land border or the banks of a river marking the border.
The border already teems with illegal immigrants seeking to cross into Europe as well as fugitive criminals, including members of other terrorist group like the PKK. FETÖ members started to use the border for crossing as well in the aftermath of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Tens of thousands of people were detained or arrested in a massive crackdown against FETÖ following the putsch bid that killed 251 people. The crackdown still continues though Turkey lifted the state of emergency it imposed after the coup attempt.
FETÖ members either mingle with illegal migrants from Asian, Middle Eastern and African countries to cross the border or seek assistance from members of other terrorist groups to cross into Greece. Turkey stepped up border security following the coup attempt and eight years ago after a civil war in Syria triggered an influx of migrants into Turkey, seeking to cross into Europe from there.
Figures show 18 FETÖ members were captured on the border's Edirne section in 2016, and this number rose to 149 in 2017 and 266 in 2018. Some 113 members of the terrorist group were intercepted in the first four months of this year. Among the suspects are soldiers, judges, prosecutors, teachers, police officers and academics who were dismissed from their jobs for their links to the terrorist group and were facing possible jail terms. Halil Kumcu, a military officer who was among the abductors of former gendarmerie commander Gen. Galip Mendi during the 2016 coup attempt, was among those trying to flee the country from Edirne. Murat Çapan, executive of a magazine linked to the terrorist group and charged with inciting armed riots, was another FETÖ-linked figure intercepted on the border. Çapan faces 22 years in prison on terror charges. Cevheri Güven, the editor-in-chief of this magazine, managed to flee to Greece and currently lives in Thessaloniki according to media reports. Hamza Günerigök, a former presenter on a public broadcaster wanted for FETÖ membership, was among those trying to cross into Greece when he was caught on the border. Yunus Y., the terrorist group's executive in Colombia, a member in charge of the group's infiltrators in the Turkish Naval Forces and other senior handlers for the group's infiltrators at a university and a police school were among those stopped on the border. Other prominent FETÖ-linked figures captured in Edirne are Mahmut Erel, a colonel in the Naval Forces, E.Ş., a former judge who worked in a top judiciary body and the director of a prison complex.