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Turkey seeks over 200 arrests over Gulen ties

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FILE PHOTO: U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Pennsylvania, U.S., July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller/File Photo

Turkish police on Tuesday launched operations across the country to detain over 200 people, including soldiers, suspected of ties to the group blamed for the 2016 coup attempt, local media reported.

Prosecutors in several provinces including Ankara issued arrest warrants for 222 suspects as part of investigations into followers of US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, news agencies Anadolu and DHA reported.

Turkey accuses Gulen of masterminding the July 2016 attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a claim Gulen strongly denies.

The raids on Tuesday were spread across more than 30 provinces including the central Konya and the Aegean regions of Mugla and Izmir.

The Ankara public prosecutor’s office said in a statement it issued 50 arrest warrants for active-duty military personnel including three lieutenants.

In a separate probe, the Izmir public prosecutor detained 21 people over alleged ties to Gulen, Anadolu said on Tuesday, adding that authorities were seeking to detain eight suspects on the run.

And in Ankara, the capital’s chief prosecutor said nine people had been detained on Monday in another investigation.

Tens of thousands of people have been detained over suspected links to Gulen since 2016 while over 100,000 have been sacked or suspended from the public sector.

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said earlier this month that 31,088 people have been convicted or jailed over Gulen links.

Regular nationwide raids have taken place in recent weeks against alleged members of the Gulen movement despite criticism of Turkey from human rights defenders and its Western allies over the scale of the crackdown.

Turkish officials defend the crackdown by pointing to the need to remove the “virus” they claim is the movement’s infiltration of key institutions.


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