The Turkish Coast Guard Command and police captured 14 suspects linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) on Friday as they attempted to flee into Greece, a favorite destination for terrorists seeking a gateway to Europe. Acting on a tip-off, security forces raided a rental boat off the coast of Bozburun in the Marmaris district of the southwestern province of Muğla. Aboard, they found suspects, including military officers, police officers, civil servants and private sector employees, who were either wanted or were released pending trial with a travel ban. The suspects were brought to Muğla and remanded in custody. On Wednesday, 13 FETÖ members had managed to reach Greece after fleeing Turkey and sought asylum on the island of Rhodes.
Greek coast guard teams and police were notified by residents of the island after a suspicious boat approached the beach along the island's west coast Wednesday evening, Greek media reported. Authorities noted that the FETÖ members, who had come from Turkey's western Izmir province on a speedboat, introduced themselves as "Gülenists" and requested asylum. Greek authorities are set to examine their asylum request.
Members of the terrorist group that is behind the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey often escape to neighboring Greece as authorities stepped up operations against FETÖ. On Jan. 10, six members of the terrorist group who fled to Greece’s Crete island also requested asylum.
Dozens of FETÖ members were arrested on Friday in nationwide operations in Turkey, while arrest warrants have been issued for many others. In the Turkish capital Ankara, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for nine suspects over the alleged leaking of the 2005 exam questions for the entrance to the police department to FETÖ-linked candidates. Seven of the suspects, including five dismissed, are police officers and the other two are teachers, according to a security source.
In northwestern Balıkesir province, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 19 suspects as part of an investigation into the terrorist group's covert operations within the military. The suspects, including 10 on-duty and nine dismissed soldiers, are accused of regularly communicating with FETÖ members via payphone. Police teams launched an operation to nab the suspects in Balıkesir, which spread to nine other provinces across the country and arrested 13 of the wanted suspects. In another operation launched in Istanbul and expanded to seven other provinces, security forces are searching for 37 suspects accused of using the terrorist group's encrypted smartphone messaging app ByLock. Twenty of the suspects, including a dismissed police officer, teacher, doctor, tax inspector and customs officer, have been arrested, while numerous organizational documents were seized in the operation. Eleven of the suspects are thought to be abroad. The operation is ongoing to nab the remaining six fugitives.
Also on Friday, two military judges were dismissed from their positions over their links to FETÖ.