By Sibel Ugurlu
ANKARA (AA) - Police arrested 15 people across Turkey on Tuesday for suspected links with the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup, according to a security source.
Twelve on-duty soldiers in Black Sea province of Ordu were arrested after the public prosecutor’s office issued warrants for 16 FETO suspects, the source said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
In another operation in northern Karabuk province, a suspect was arrested while another one, who had already been searched under a warrant, was arrested during a road check in northwestern Edirne province.
They were all accused of being members of a terrorist organization.
A criminal high court in southern Antalya province gave a former judge, who was accused of using FETO’s encyrpted messaging app ByLock, to more than seven years in jail.
In the Black Sea province of Rize, four people received seven years and six months in prison for being FETO members and two others received more than four years for giving aid to a terrorist organization.
The court also handed down eight years in prison to two other FETO members, including a former head of counter-terrorism branch of police department.
Separately, in eastern Erzurum province, former teacher Husnu Cemal Keles was sentenced to 15 years in prison for using Bylock.
Keles was also accused of having deposited money at the FETO-affiliated Bank Asya upon orders from the terrorist group.
An Istanbul court declared the lender bankrupt last November. Bank Asya's banking license was cancelled on July 22, 2016 -- seven days after the defeated coup -- by Turkey’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency.
The banking watchdog had ruled for complete takeover of all shares of Bank Asya by the state-run Insurance Fund in May 2015.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara 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.