Turkey arrests 45 in connection with failed 2016 coup

At least 45 people have been arrested for alleged links to a group associated with the failed 2016 coup on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government, Turkish authorities said Tuesday.

The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, shown here at a ceremony marking the 80th death anniversary of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, arrested 45 people accused in a failed coup attempt in 2016.

Many of those arrested included active-duty and former military staff who have been accused of being members of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization. The government has blamed the group for pushing the attempted coup, state-run news outlet Anadolu Agency reported.

Prosecutors issued a total of 122 arrest warrants Tuesday in connection with the coup. Raids took place in 56 provinces around the country in an attempt to apprehend the suspects. Authorities said most of the suspects are believed to have contact with U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The Turkish government has said Gulen and his network masterminded the coup that killed 250 people and tested Turkey’s relationship with the United States.

Last month, a Turkish court issued life sentences to 24 people convicted for the failed coup attempt. Seventeen of them were charged with “violating the constitution” and “attempting to assassinate the president.”

Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, is being tried in absentia. Gulen has denied any ties to the terror group and the United States has refused to extradite him to Turkey to stand trial.

The arrests were the latest purge from the Erdogan administration to punish those it believes were involved with the coup. In 2017, the government fired about 7,400 police, soldiers and other public servants.

ByClyde Hughes