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German national held in Turkey crackdown

August 5, 2016

Turkish security forces have reportedly arrested a German woman on suspicion of belonging to the Gulen movement. President Erdogan has accused the US-based cleric of orchestrating last month's failed coup.

Image: Getty Images/B. Kara

The German citizen was detained a few days ago as part of a wave of arrests targeting alleged conspirators behind the attempted coup on July 15, German media reported Friday.

A spokesman for the German Foreign Office confirmed the reports, without providing more details. According to the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" newspaper and German broadcasters NDR and WDR, the woman is suspected of belonging to the movement of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is currently living in exile in the United States.

Turkey's government accuses Gulen of masterminding the botched coup that killed more than 245 people, but the cleric denies any involvement.

Türkei Verhaftungen nach Putschversuch
Thousands of military officers were detained or dishonorably discharged following the failed coupImage: picture-alliance/AA/M. Kula

Ankara has detained or suspended nearly 60,000 people in a post-coup purge targeting alleged Gulen supporters within the military, judiciary, media and civil service.

The detained German woman was reportedly arrested after Turkish authorities allegedly found books at her residence that suggested links to the Gulen movement. She is the first German citizen to be affected by the crackdown.

Sources at the Foreign Office said the German Embassy in Ankara had been trying for days to contact her - without success. No details about her identity have been released. It was also unclear why she was in Turkey, whether she lives there permanently, or whether she has Turkish as well as German citizenship.

Demand for Gulen to face trial

Fethullah Gulen
Gulen, a former friend of Erdogan, has been living in exile in the United States since 1999Image: picture-alliance/dpa/fgulen.com

Gulen, once a close ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. Turkey considers his movement, which runs charities, schools and businesses across the world, a terrorist organization.

The Turkish government has been urging the United States to extradite the 75-year-old to Turkey so that he may face trial over his alleged involvement in the failed coup.

The US State Department said justice officials were still reviewing documents from Ankara to see if they meet the criteria for a formal extradition request.

Tensions between allies

Turkey has expressed growing irritation over Washington's delay, and what it perceives as a lack of solidarity from its foreign allies in the wake of the coup. Ankara has also pressed other countries, including Germany, to extradite alleged Gulen supporters.

WorldLink: 'The hatred is palpable'

Gulen's lawyer said Friday that he feared attacks on the cleric's life following Turkey's extradition demands, adding that he was confident the bid would fail because Ankara had no proof.

"We haven't seen any evidence, direct or indirect, that would be persuasive to a fact finder that there is a scintilla of evidence - electronic or otherwise - implicating Mr. Gulen," said attorney Reid Weingarten.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to travel to Turkey later this month, according to Ankara. In the days after the coup, Kerry said Turkey must present "genuine evidence" and "not allegations" against Gulen to secure his extradition.

nm/cmk (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)