UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Turkey seeks to arrest 55 suspected Gulen movement financers as crackdown widens

Iran Press TV

Sat Dec 10, 2016 2:44PM

Turkish officials have issued arrest warrants for dozens more people, including business figures, over suspected affiliation to the network of US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of having masterminded the failed military coup in mid-July.

Turkish-language NTV television news channel reported on Saturday that security forces from the Istanbul Police Department Financial Crimes Unit had raided 57 separate locations in the city and sought to arrest 55 suspects on charges of transferring large sums of cash back and forth between Turkey, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kazakhstan since 2014.

According to the report, some suspects were arrested in the raids, while police are still seeking others who are abroad and not found in their official addresses.

Some of the suspects are believed to be using ByLock mobile application, which the Turkish government claims to be the top communication tool among members of the Gulen movement.

The Turkish government has accused Gulen of being behind the July 15 putsch, cracking down on anyone believed to be his supporter.

Ankara says it has been successful in significantly diminishing the power of Gulen's supporters in state institutions following the coup.

The Pennsylvania-based cleric has strongly condemned the coup attempt and denied any involvement in it.

Turkish officials say over 240 people were killed and more than 2,100 others injured in the coup attempt.

Tens of thousands of people, including military personnel, judges and teachers, have been suspended, dismissed or detained as part of the post-coup crackdown.

International rights groups argue that Ankara's crackdown has gone far beyond the so-called Gulenists and targeted Kurds as well as government critics in general.

On May 24, the European Parliament decided to temporarily halt accession negotiations with Turkey over the large-scale crackdown.

Turkey submits bill on expanding presidential powers to parliament

Meanwhile, Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Saturday presented a bill to the parliament, which would change the country's constitution and expand presidential powers.

The package would also bring structural changes to Turkey's security and judiciary.

Earlier in the day, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that Ankara continued "to work on changing the system to ensure instability is removed from Turkey's political history absolutely."

The Turkish prime minister further claimed that the bill would protect Turkey against any future coup attempt.

The drive for the constitutional change and expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers come as the AKP has 317 of 550 seats in the parliament. Calling a referendum on the constitution in Turkey requires 330 votes, which means the governing party needs more than a dozen votes from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The Turkish legislature's second- and third-biggest parties, the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), both oppose the intended constitutional reforms.

Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli says the referendum could take place in March, April or May.

CHP President Kemal Kilicdaroglu has, in return, expressed strong opposition to the proposed changes.

"This is a regime change, not a system change. This country has a 140-year parliamentary system tradition. There are disruptive directions here and they can be corrected," he told NTV.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list