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Turkey Rounds Up 100 People Accused of Links to US-Based Muslim Cleric

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses one-time ally Fethullah Gulen of conspiring to set up a parallel state, and has been engaged in a crackdown against his movement or anyone associated with it.
April 18, 2016, 12:58pm
Supporters of the Fethullah Gulen movement protest as Ekrem Dumanli, chief editor of Zaman newspapers, is arrested in December 2014. Photo by Erdem Sahin/EPA

Executives of a major Turkish company were among 100 people detained by police on Monday over allegations of funding the movement of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a foe of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state media said.

The raids were the latest police operations targeting thousands of supporters of the US-based cleric, accused of leading what prosecutors described as a "Gulenist Terror Group" trying to overthrow Erdogan. Gulen denies the accusations.


The state-run Anadolu Agency named two board members of the Dumankaya construction group as among those taken into custody. Dumankaya said in a statement that its board members had been invited to police headquarters to provide information.

Anadolu said the police operation, focused on Istanbul, was launched across nine provinces and 101 people have so far been taken into custody, with prosecutors having issued arrest warrants for 140 people under the probe.

Those held are accused of charges of membership and funding of a terror group and spreading terrorist propaganda, it said. The report added that they included 41 employees of Islamic lender Bank Asya, which was founded by followers of Gulen and seized by the government last year.

Various companies, including ones involved in media, mining, furniture, and cable-making, have been probed and their executives detained during police operations targeting Gulen's followers.

Gulen and Erdogan were once allies but their relationship broke down police and prosecutors seen as sympathetic to Gulen opened a corruption probe into Erdogan's inner circle in 2013. Thousands of police officers, prosecutors, and judges were sacked or reassigned for alleged links to Gulen.

Related: Turkey's President Erdogan Tells EU to 'Mind Its Own Business' Over Media Arrests

A Turkish court in December 2014 issued an arrest warrant for Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999, accusing him of heading a criminal group.

Erdogan accuses Gulen of setting up a "parallel state" and conspiring to unseat the government with a network of supporters in the judiciary, police, and media. Gulen, whose adherents run schools and are active in the media sector, denies the charges.


Media outlets linked to him have been seized and some shut down, including Turkey's biggest newspaper by circulation and a leading opposition news agency.

In March 2014, the Turkish parliament passed a law ordering the closure of Gulen-linked schools, but it was overturned by the country's constitutional court the following year.

As well as businessmen, those detained over the weekend include police officers, civil servants, and teachers. The pro-government Milliyet newspapersaid the number of those detained would increase in the coming days. Some 500 of those detained have been jailed pending trial, Milliyet said.

A total of 2,261 people have been rounded up in operations in 48 provinces across Turkey targeting the financial activities of Gulen's followers since the crackdown began, Milliyet reported at the weekend, citing police data.

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