By Sevil Celik and Halil Demir
At least 172 suspects, including former soldiers were arrested across Turkey on Wednesday over suspected links with the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind last year’s defeated coup, according to a security source.
A prosecutor in Istanbul issued arrest warrants early on Wednesday for 360 suspected FETO members. Later on Wednesday anti-terror teams of Istanbul Police arrested 172 suspects in simultaneous operations, a judicial official said.
Speaking anonymously due to restrictions on talking to the media, the official said the warrants focused on military personnel across 49 provinces.
Most suspects were brought to the Istanbul Police Headquarter after their health check up.
The official said 27 of 333 military suspects were “imams” -- senior figures within FETO responsible for coordinating cells within the armed forces. The majority -- 216 -- were on active duty as serving members of the military.
Nineteen suspects were arrested later Wednesday in the western provinces of Mugla and Izmir, police officials said.
In separate operations against FETO suspects, four were arrested in the northwestern province of Tekirdag; four, including a doctor, in Kirikkale province; and seven in Kutahya province, including three women.
In Balikesir province, a former naval captain was arrested while in Ankara province, six suspects, including four former Treasury civil servants, were detained.
FETO supporters in the military were at the fore of last year's attempted coup that saw 250 people martyred.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the July 15 defeated coup.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.