Forty five military pilots were detained Thursday and 29 who had previously been detained were formally arrested as part of the probe into the group blamed for the failed coup on July 15, Turkey’s state-run news agency said.
The chief public prosecutor’s office in the central Anatolian city of Konya issued warrants for the detention of 73 military pilots— two colonels and 71 lieutenants— over alleged ties to U.S.-based Fethullah Gulen. Forty-five were brought to Konya for processing.
Turkey accuses Gulen of ordering the violent coup attempt that led to more than 270 deaths, and the government has launched a massive crackdown on his followers.
Gulen, living in self-exile in Pennsylvania, strongly denies the allegations.
Meanwhile 47 Air Force personnel stationed in Konya, most of whom were detained in operations on Oct. 20 upon orders of the chief public prosecutor’s office, were brought before court Thursday, with 29 suspects put under arrest and 18 released, nine on probation.
Anadolu agency said the pilots were handpicked by the Gulen movement and played an active role in the movement.
The accusations listed in the warrants for the pilots include “violating the constitution”, being part of “an armed rebellion against the Turkish Republic” as well as “acting on behalf of the (Gulen) organization”, the privately-owned Dogan news agency reported.
Over 35,000 people have been arrested since July as part of the investigation into the group while nearly 26,000 have been released into “judicial control”.
In total, Turkey says it has investigated 82,000 people in connection with the coup bid.
Tens of thousands of people in the judiciary, military, education sector and media have also been suspended or sacked for alleged links to the Gulen movement.
Also Thursday, Turkish authorities detained 81 people, most of them foreigners, on suspicion of planning to travel illegally to join ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria, Dogan said.
It said 21 of those detained were suspected of being senior figures in the ISIS network, while 60 were foreign nationals. It said the operation was centered in Istanbul but involved raids at 31 locations in six Turkish provinces.