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Turkey arrests dozens over alleged links to Erdogan rival

James Franey
October 13, 2020

State media in Turkey say that as many as 121 people have been arrested over suspected links to a cleric that the government believes helped organize a 2016 coup.

Turkish cleric Fethullan Gulen has been accused by the government of helping to organise a 2016 coup. He denies the allegations.
Image: Reuters/C. Mostoller

Turkish police arrested dozens of people over their alleged links to a Muslim preacher accused of organizing a failed coup more than four years ago, state media in Turkey reported on Tuesday.

Officers detained as many as 121 suspects, many of them active military personnel, as part of what it claims was an operation against supporters of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes his former ally-turned-rival helped organize an attempt to seize power in July 2016, in which some 250 people died.

Since then, authorities have launched a crackdown on alleged Gulen's supporters, sacking civil servants and army officers believed to be close to the 79-year-old.

Read more: Turkey orders scores of arrests for alleged coup links

Calls for extradition

Turkey has designated his FETO network as a terrorist organization.

Gulen rejects the label, saying his interpretation of Islam stresses religious coexistence.

US officials have refused to extradite him to Turkey despite requests from Ankara, arguing there is no evidence to support the accusations against him.

The imam fled to the US in 1999 during a crackdown by the secular government of the time against Islamists.  

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