A Turkish court has issued an arrest warrant for the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a major critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Gulen is accused of leading a terrorist plot to seize power.
The warrant takes Erdogan's efforts to eradicate support for Gulen to an international stage, and might lead to friction between Ankara and Washington.
The court on Friday ruled that there was "sufficient tangible evidence" against Gulen. It agreed to the warrant, which could be the prelude to an extradition request for the 73-year-old from the United States.
Prosecutors claim that Gulen, who was once a close ally of Erdogan, is guilty of operating an armed terror group, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
Erdogan accuses Gulen of running a "parallel state." It is alleged that his network infiltrated the police and judiciary, ordering corruption allegations that brought down four of Erdogan's ministers last year.
Meanwhile, the editor of the Zaman mass-circulation daily newspaper, Ekrem Dumanli, was among eight people released in another court decision on Friday. The court ruled that only four suspects should remain in custody after a crackdown on people affiliated with the Gulenist movement.
Dumanli defiantly told hundreds of supporters outside the court after his release that "the press cannot be silenced, media will never succumb to intimidations."
Four people remained in custody, included the head of the Samanyolu Media group, Hidayet Karaca. The other three being detained are the former head of the anti-terror division of Istanbul police and two local police officials.
On Sunday, 28 people were arrested, with a number of individuals released by police since then. Officials had originally said the arrests of police officers, journalists and broadcasters were on charges of forgery, the fabrication of evidence and forming a criminal network that would work against the state.
There was criticism of the arrests from the EU and US, with many of the detained being journalists.
rc/tj (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)