According to a police source, at least 39 suspects linked to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) were arrested during nationwide counter-terror operations on Wednesday.
After the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul issued arrest warrants for 111 suspects, operations were carried out in 17 provinces, including capital Ankara and western Izmir province.
The operations were conducted as part of a probe into managers, members and employees of the Journalists and Writers Foundation, also known as the JWF, whose honorary President was FETO leader Fetullah Gulen.
Across Turkey, courts have so far handed life sentences to 140 suspects linked to FETO - the group behind last year’s defeated coup attempt.
The accused include former soldiers, naval officers and civilians. The crimes range from ordering civilians not to resist the coup and to attacking the telecommunication building in trying to cut the signal feed of Turkish satellite operator TURKSAT during the July 15, 2016 defeated coup.
In eastern Bitlis province on June 9, the 2nd High Criminal Court gave three aggravated life sentences to each of the four suspects, including former Brig. Gen. Arif Settar Afsar -- the so-called “martial law commander” of FETO.
In the first-ever hearing in the eastern Erzurum province on January 5, the 2nd Criminal Court gave two ex-army officers, Colonel Murat Kocak and Major Murat Yilmaz aggravated life sentences.
Turkey’s most insidious criminal cult
Meanwhile, Fatma Benli, the deputy chair of the Turkish Parliament's Human Rights Committee branded FETO as "the most insidious terror group in history."
"FETO is the kind of organization which can bomb the Parliament with lawmakers in it, all the while making itself look like a relief and education organization in the world," Benli said, referring to the attack on the Parliament during the coup attempt.
A deputy of the AK Party for Istanbul, Benli underlined that during the coup attempt, FETO terrorists "ran over 15-16-year-old teens with tanks."
More, she stated that FETO was dangerous enough to murder the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, who was assassinated at an art exhibition in Ankara on December 19, 2016.
"Turkey is not just protecting itself while fighting FETO. It is also contributing to regional and the global peace," Benli said. "Turkey's fight against PKK, Daesh and FETO makes a positive contribution to other countries, especially Europe." However, some European countries continue to protect suspected criminal cult members.