September 21, 2018 / 9:48 AM / a month ago

Turkey orders detentions of 110 soldiers on suspected Gulen links

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Ankara’s chief prosecutor ordered the detention of 110 soldiers from the air force on Friday for suspected links to a U.S.-based cleric Turkey says orchestrated a failed coup in 2016, the prosecutor’s office said.

FILE PHOTO: Special forces police officers secure the area during a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the attempted coup at the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey, July 15, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal/File Photo

Three colonels, two lieutenant colonels, six majors and three captains were among those ordered held in the operation spread over the capital and 15 other provinces, the prosecutor’s office said. All those detained were on active duty, it said.

U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller - RC1496DEC310

Authorities have carried out regular sweeps against alleged supporters of the cleric Fethullah Gulen since the coup attempt of July 2016, in which 250 people were killed. Gulen denies involvement.

Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the crackdown, which mostly took place under a state of emergency declared shortly after the coup attempt and remained in effect until July 2018.

Erdogan’s critics accuse him of using the failed putsch as a pretext to quash dissent. Turkey says the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.

Reporting by Mert Ozkan, Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen, Editing by William Maclean

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