Turkey’s top police chief said 33,500 police officers, from chiefs to policemen in lower ranks, were suspended and dismissed from the force for their links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Speaking to Demirören News Agency (DHA), Celal Uzunkaya, director of the National Police, said both before and after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, 33,500 people were suspended, dismissed or arrested for their affiliations with the terrorist group.
FETÖ is accused of carrying out the 2016 coup attempt through its infiltrators in the military.Uzunkaya also stated that a “legal process” was launched for 240,000 FETÖ suspects in the public sector, and 85,000 of them were arrested. “We don’t have a staff shortage due to dismissals. We boosted law enforcement with new hiring,” Uzunkaya noted.
FETÖ, which posed as a charity movement with religious undertones for decades, had managed to infiltrate its members into law enforcement, the military, the judiciary and the bureaucracy over the years. Most were recruited before they applied to the military, police or law schools, and FETÖ is accused of stealing questions and answers for exams for admission to those schools, easily planting its members without suspicion. The group’s members in law enforcement and the judiciary were at the forefront in FETÖ’s first attempt to overthrow the government in 2013.
This coup attempt, under the guise of a graft probe targeting people close to the government, was thwarted, marking a turning point in the fight against FETÖ. Authorities started cracking down on the group’s members after the first coup attempt and was about to start purging more of its infiltrators in the military when the 2016 coup attempt that killed 251 people took place.
Tens of thousands of people were arrested or detained following the 2016 coup bid, and new investigations have disclosed previously unknown infiltrators in law enforcement. Some police officers were also caught red-handed while assisting the soldiers behind the 2016 attempts, such as former police chief Mithat Aynacı who was caught in a tank commanded by putschists in Istanbul and former chiefs of police intelligence caught as they were helping putschists to seize police intelligence headquarters in the capital Ankara.