Turkish police use tear-inducing agent against demonstrators in Ankara on November 27, 2015. (AFP file photo)
has detained scores of people for their alleged link to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen whom the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regards as an opponent.
Police said on Monday that 101 people have been detained so far in an ongoing operation in nine provinces, which has primarily been focused on Istanbul, Anadolu News
Prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for 140 people under investigation centering on financial support for Gulen’s group.
Ankara has accused the cleric of heading a criminal group, what it calls the Fethullahist Terror Organization/Parallel State Structure (FeTO/PDY).
Gulen fled to the United States in 1999 after former secular authorities laid charges against him. Turkey has asked the US to extradite him but Washington has shown little interest in doing so.
Exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania (AFP photo)
Erdogan claims Gulen has built a network of supporters in Turkey’s police, media and judiciary and is conspiring to oust his government. Gulen denies the allegations.
As part of a crackdown on Gulen’s followers, police forces launched a raid on opposition media outlets linked to the cleric late last year.
Officers also arrested hundreds of people, believed to be sympathizers of Gulen, many of whom members of the police and the judiciary. Most recently, police shut down Zaman newspaper over ties with the cleric.
Erdogan’s government has been under fire for clamping down on journalists and sentencing them to long prison terms. Dozens of journalists are currently imprisoned in the country.
Erdogan and Gulen were allies until police and prosecutors, seen as sympathetic to the latter, opened a corruption investigation into Erdogan’s inner circle in 2013.
The investigation led to the resignation of the ministers of economy, interior, and urbanization. Gulen is also viewed to be behind the leaks that led to the probe.