Turkey orders arrest of 176 military personnel over suspected Gulen links

Western allies of Turkey say Erdogan is using the failed coup to quash dissent. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 July 2019

Turkey orders arrest of 176 military personnel over suspected Gulen links

  • The operation included the army, air force and navy
  • More than 77,000 people were jailed since the failed putsch in 2016

ISTANBUL: Turkey has ordered the arrest of 176 serving military personnel over suspected links to the network which Ankara says was behind an attempted coup three years ago, the Istanbul chief prosecutors’ office said on Tuesday.
Among those facing arrest were a colonel, two lieutenant colonels, five majors, seven captains and 100 lieutenants in an operation encompassing the army, air force and navy, the statement said.
Ankara says US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen masterminded the failed putsch on July 15, 2016. He has denied any involvement.
In the 3-year purge since the coup attempt, more than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial and about 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.
Turkey’s Western allies and rights groups have criticized the scale of the crackdown, saying President Tayyip Erdogan has used the abortive coup as a pretext to quash dissent.
Ankara has defended the clampdown as a necessary response to the scale of the security threat which Turkey faces, vowing to eradicate Gulen’s network.


Iran sentences British lawyer to 10 years in jail for spying

Iran has a long track record of detaining foreigners and political prisoners in Evin prison (pictured). (File/Reuters)
Updated 11 August 2020

Iran sentences British lawyer to 10 years in jail for spying

  • British-Iranian dual national is accused of recruiting Iranian officials to work for MI6
  • Latest convictions highlight Iran’s ‘arbitrary’ targeting of foreigners with Western links

LONDON: A British-Iranian lawyer has been convicted on charges of spying and sentenced to 10 years in prison, along with four other Iranian nationals.

Iran’s judiciary said Shahram Shirkhani, a Tehran-based lawyer, spied for British intelligence services and tried to recruit Iranian officials to work for MI6.

Shirkhani, who also taught law at the Islamic Azad University at the time of his arrest, previously served as a legal adviser to Iran’s foreign investment authority.

Gholamhossein Esmaili, a judiciary spokesman, said Shikhani had passed on classified information about Iran’s central bank and defense ministry contracts.

Shikhani was one of “five Iranians who were spying for foreign intelligence services” to be arrested over the past few months, Esmaili said, alleging that they had been working for Britain, Israel and Germany.

The only other person named by Esmaili for spying was Masoud Mosaheb, an Austrian-Iranian national who served as secretary-general of the Iran-Austria friendship association.

In a separate case to that of Shikhani, Mosaheb was also sentenced to 10 years in jail for spying for Israeli and German intelligence agencies, Esmaili said.

Tehran has been widely criticised for its judicial process and for targeting foreigners perceived to have links with Western nations.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has previously noted the pattern of Iran detaining dual nationals, and said the arrests and detentions of many of those detained by Tehran are “arbitrary,” and that authorities targeted people based on their “national or social origin.” 

Human Rights Watch said Iranian authorities “systematically deny” foreigners charged with national security crimes — such as Shikhani and Mosaheb — with access to lawyers of their choosing.

They also said that many of those sentenced in Iran to long jail terms or even death “did not have access to any legal counsel during investigation.”

Last month, Iran executed Mahmoud Mousavi Majd, a former translator convicted of spying for the US and Israel. He was accused of helping locate Qassem Soleimani, the powerful commander killed by the US in a drone strike.

Reza Asgari was also executed in July after he was convicted of spying on Iran’s missile program for the US.