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Turkish Police Raid More Businesses in Post-Coup Fallout

By VOA News August 18, 2016

In a pre-dawn operation Thursday, Turkish police issued nearly 200 arrest warrants and raided more than 100 places as they searched for people alleged to have connections to U.S.-based cleric , Fetullah Gulen, who the government claims is behind an attempted coup last month.

Turkey's financial police led the raids in search of connections between businesses and sympathizers who fund Gulen's religious movement.

On July 15, at least 270 people were killed during a short-lived coup attempt the government claims was masterminded by Gulen and carried out by thousands of police officers and military personnel. Afterwards, the government announced a state of emergency and began rounding up people it accused of plotting the coup.

The raids came a day after Turkey said it will free 38,000 prisoners who have less than two years left on their sentence.

The announcement Wednesday, was intended to make room in jails for the thousands of people it's arrested in recent weeks for allegedly participating in the failed coup.

Turkish justice minister Bekir Bozdag cautioned in a series of tweets Wednesday morning that the releases are not pardons but rather conditional releases.

"This measure is not an amnesty. The punishment will be served outside through supervised released," Bozdag said on Twitter. "I hope that the arrangement is beneficial to the prisoners, their loved ones, our people and our country,'' the minister wrote.

In addition to those inmates with less than two years left on their sentence, prisoners who have served more than half of their sentences would be eligible for parole. The decree will not apply to inmates jailed on murder, terrorism, domestic abuse or sexual assault charges.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Wednesday that more than 4,200 businesses and organizations linked to Gulen had been shut down.

In all, more than 35,000 people – including judges, academics and journalists – have been detained for questioning, with more than 17,000 of those people formally arrested. Nearly 80,00 government employees have been removed from duty since the failed coup attempt, Yildirim said in a speech broadcast live on television.

Bozdag announced a second decree Wednesday that would remove 2,300 more officers from the police force, as well as 136 military officers and 196 government employees from its information technology authority.

The government's post coup attempt crackdown has raised criticism from some European nations and human rights organizations which have urged Turkey to show restraint.

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