Prosecutors in Istanbul say the number of those who collaborated with authorities to disclose secret members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) has risen to 617 since November 2017.
These former members of the group were implicated in an investigation started that month into FETÖ's secret network in the army. In exchange for more lenient sentences, former members provided valuable confessions to authorities investigating the communication between infiltrators and their civilian handlers.
The investigation, similar to several probes in other cities, focuses on phone contacts between infiltrators and their handlers commonly known as "imams." FETÖ is accused of carrying out the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that killed 251 people and injured nearly 2,200 others. Through its military infiltrators, it tried to topple the government but ultimately failed due to strong public resistance. Since the coup was quelled, the terrorist group faces a barrage of investigations and trials while authorities detained thousands of people linked to the group, from generals to lieutenants as well as civilian members who instructed them.Public payphones and prepaid phones are a common method of keeping low profiles for FETÖ handlers and military infiltrators, according to authorities. An "imam" usually calls one or more infiltrator answering to him through payphones and issues a brief message, often a meeting date and location. Authorities discovered the location of payphones thanks to confessions of former FETÖ members and revealed a nationwide web of military infiltrators. In Istanbul investigations, 4,447 suspects were identified and among them, 2,775 suspects who were not implicated in any FETÖ or coup attempt cases previously. As many as 2,422 among 4,447 were detained and 1,501 among them have been remanded in custody so far.
The Chief Prosecutor's Office in Istanbul says the "secret network" is prioritized by FETÖ in its activities and they long sought to maintain their secrecy.
"It is believed that deciphering this secret network will lead to a decline in morale of the group's members and will lead more members to sever ties with the group. Thus, more people will come forward to confess and invoke remorse law," the prosecutors say as seen in an official document sent to court. A remorse law for terror suspects allow the detainees to get away with lower prison terms if the information they supply to authorities is helpful for investigations.