Turkey arrests dozens of pilots with alleged links to Gulen

ISTANBUL: Turkey's state-run news agency says 45 military pilots were detained Thursday and 29 who had previously been detained were formally arrested as part of the ongoing investigation into the movement allegedly responsible for the failed coup on July 15.

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 US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Forty-five were brought to Konya for processing.

Turkey accuses Gulen of masterminding the violent coup attempt that led to more than 270 deaths, and the government has launched a massive crackdown on his followers.

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 says the pilots were handpicked by the Gulen movement and played an active role in the movement.

Turkey has detained thousands of people for alleged links to the coup. Tens of thousands of people have also been dismissed or suspended from government jobs including in the military, police, judiciary and the education ministry.