Turkish authorities ordered the arrest of 249 foreign ministry personnel over suspected links to the network of US-based Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of orchestrating an attempted coup on July 15, 2016.
The Ankara chief prosecutor’s office said it ordered the arrest of the 249 personnel after investigations found that they had committed irregularities in the foreign ministry’s past entrance exams.
It said 78 suspects had been detained so far in operations across 43 provinces and that police were seeking the rest. They are believed to have used ByLock, an encrypted cellphone app used for texting, that the authorities assume was a means of communication among Gulen Movement members before and during the attempted coup.
Authorities have carried out regular operations against the alleged followers of Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. Gulen denies he was behind the failed coup.
More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while some 175,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs as part of the post-coup purges.
In another context, the Supreme Election Council (YSK) announced Monday its final decision on annulling the election results in Istanbul’s mayoral race.
Voters will head to ballot boxes again to elect a mayor for Istanbul on June 23 after Turkey’s electoral board scrapped on May 6 the results of the March 31 polls in the country’s largest city.
YSK members ruled in favor of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) objection to the results of the polls, ordering a re-run.
The Turkish opposition, whose candidate was stripped of victory in the mayoral race, has expressed dismay at YSK’s decision, seeing it an attempt by the ruling party to keep its grip on the municipality.