ISTANBUL/BURSA/ESKISEHIR, Turkey 

At least 35 suspects were arrested on Friday for their suspected links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), according to a security source.

Provincial security directorate in the central Eskisehir province carried out simultaneous operations as part of a probe into FETO’s Air Force Command infiltration and arrested seven suspects, said the source who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

The suspects, who were on-duty soldiers, were sought with an arrest warrant, the source added.

In a separate Istanbul-based operation across eight provinces, 28 FETO suspects were arrested.

The arrests came after the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul issued warrants for 40 people after they were found to be using ByLock, the terror group’s encrypted smartphone messaging app, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media. 

Police are still looking for the remaining fugitive suspects.

Meanwhile, five other FETO suspects, who had been arrested previously, were referred to a court in the northwestern Bursa province, said another security source.

The suspects were arrested in Bursa-based police operation launched across 16 provinces. 35 suspects have been arrested so far.

The suspects were found to be using ByLock and in touch with terror affiliates through pay phone.

Separately, a total of 15 FETO suspects, who were arrested in Istanbul, were referred to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The suspects include on-duty soldiers who favored candidates with links to the FETO during air force entrance examinations between 2004-2016. 

They were arrested on June 9 in Izmir-based police operation launched across 26 provinces.

FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured. 

Turkey accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

* Writing by Gozde Bayar

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