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Turkey arrests ex opposition lawmaker over alleged Gulen links

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Fethullah Gulen. PHOTO:AFP

Turkey on Friday formally arrested a former opposition lawmaker over alleged links to the group blamed for the 2016 attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state media reported.

An Istanbul court ordered Eren Erdem, a former MP for Istanbul from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), be charged for “deliberately and willingly helping an armed terror group, without being a member”, Anadolu news agency reported.

He was also charged with “disclosing a secret witness” and “violating the secrecy of an investigation”.

Erdem will now remain in jail ahead of trial. He risks between nine-and-a-half and 22 years in jail if convicted. Anadolu said the trial would begin on September 19.

Turkey accuses the movement led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen of ordering the failed putsch and calls it the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation”.

Gulen denies any links to the coup attempt.

“I have been detained. I don’t know the reason. I was detained by police outside my home,” Erdem said on Twitter in the early hours of Friday.

The charges relate to a time when Erdem was editor-in-chief of Karsi newspaper when a series of illegal audio recordings were leaked to the media by the Gulen movement during a 2013 graft scandal involving key government members and Erdogan’s inner circle.

In 2014, several recordings, allegedly of Erdogan who was premier at the time and other senior officials, were published online in a scandal which the government denounced as “an attempted coup” orchestrated by Gulen.

Since July 2016, tens of thousands of people have been arrested over suspected links to Gulen as well as Kurdish militants waging an insurgency in the southeast.

Turkish authorities have detained several MPs from the pro-Kurdish second largest opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as well as one CHP MP, Enis Berberoglu, jailed for leaking classified material to Cumhuriyet daily.

Erdem, 31, was not chosen as a candidate to be an MP in Sunday’s polls.


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