The Turkish Foreign Ministry has recalled 300 diplomats as part of ongoing investigations into possible affiliation to the network of US-based opposition leader Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed by Ankara for having masterminded a recent failed coup attempt.
Diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Sunday that envoys found to have had connections with 75-year-old Gulen will be dismissed from their posts, while those found innocent will return to work.
The report comes as Turkish authorities arrested Gurcan Balik (shown below), who served as the chief advisor to former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during the latter’s time as foreign minister, on August 18 for suspected links to the Gulen movement.
Davutoglu had himself resigned back in May in an apparent row with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been seeking to expand his powers. Davutoglu, however, professed his loyalty to Erdogan even as he quit.
On the same day, Tuncay Babalı, a former ambassador to Canada, and Ali Findik, a former ambassador to Costa Rica, were detained in the Turkish capital city of Ankara over accusations of being linked to Gulen.
Meanwhile, Turkish officials have remanded 40 military officers from the Ankara-based Turkish Military Academy in connection with the botched putsch.
A total of 44 military officers, including three colonels, one lieutenant colonel, five majors, 34 captains and one non-commissioned sergeant were detained on July 18, and referred to the Caglayan Courthouse for interrogation.
Following testimonies before public prosecutors, judicial authorities ordered the release of four suspects on Saturday, while the rest were remanded.
A faction of the Turkish military declared itself in charge of the country on the night of July 15. Renegade military personnel made use of battle tanks and helicopters to fight loyalists to the incumbent government in Ankara and Istanbul.
The coup attempt was suppressed as people turned out on the streets to support Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party.
At least 246 people were killed and more than 2,100 others sustained injuries in the coup attempt.
Gulen has condemned the coup attempt and denied any involvement in the violence.