Turkish authorities have issued arrest warrants for 63 individuals, including former staff of the National Intelligence Agency (MIT), for their alleged links to a US-based dissident accused of leading last year’s failed coup.
Based on the orders, police launched operations to make arrests in 21 provinces throughout Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday.
The development comes as a number of Ankara’s Western allies and human rights agencies have expressed concerns over the post-coup crackdown on suspected dissidents, saying the 2016 coup attempt is being used as a pretext by the government to quash opposition across the nation.
Turkish officials insist that opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in the US state of Pennsylvania since 1999, was the mastermind of the unsuccessful coup attempt in July 2016.
Gulen has fiercely denied any involvement in the coup.
Over 50,000 people have so far been jailed pending trial for suspected ties to Gulen’s movement, while nearly 150,000 individuals have also been fired or suspended from jobs in the public and private sectors in the purge.
Earlier this month, Turkey said nearly one-third of the country’s judicial staff have been affiliated to the Gulen movement.