Fethullah Gulen. Picture: EPA/SELAHATTIN SEVI
Fethullah Gulen. Picture: EPA/SELAHATTIN SEVI

Istanbul — Turkish authorities ordered the arrest of seven colonels and nine lieutenant-colonels in an investigation into the network of a US-based cleric whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating last year’s attempted coup, the Hurriyet news website said on Friday.

It said the investigation, focused on the capital Ankara and spread across nine provinces, targeted serving officers in Turkey’s gendarmerie force, which maintains security in rural areas. Other media carried similar reports.

More than 50,000 people, including security personnel and civil servants, have been jailed pending trial in the aftermath of the putsch, which the government blames on Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen. He has denied involvement.

About 150,000 people have also been suspended or dismissed from their jobs in a crackdown which rights groups say has been used as a pretext to muzzle dissent, but which the government says has been necessary due to the security threats Turkey faces.