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Iran Press TV

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 243 over affiliation to Gulen network

Iran Press TV

Fri Mar 9, 2018 02:11PM

Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for 243 people, including 92 teachers, on suspicion of affiliation to a movement led by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the failed July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Judicial sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Chief Public Prosecutor's Offices in the central province of Konya issued warrants for 84 people on Friday, Turkey's official Anadolu news agency reported.

The Chief Public Prosecutor's Office in the capital Ankara also ordered another 92 people detained suspected of similar ties.

Separately, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutors Office issued arrest warrants for 57 Gulenist suspects.

The teachers, targeted in an operation in 20 provinces, had worked in schools previously closed for affiliation to Gulen movement.

Earlier, gendarmerie forces had apprehended eight people for alleged links to Gulen in operations across five provinces, while police arrested a school teacher in the northwestern province of Balikesir.

During the botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.

Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country's institutions, particularly the army, police and the judiciary.

Additionally, the Ankara government has outlawed his movement, and has branded it as the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

Gulen has denounced the "despicable putsch" and reiterated that he had no role in it.

"Accusations against me related to the coup attempt are baseless and politically-motivated slanders," he said in a statement.

The 76-year-old cleric has also called on Ankara to end its "witch hunt" of his followers, a move he said is aimed at "weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to President Erdogan and his regime."

Turkish officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen, but their demands have not been taken heed of.

Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.

The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.

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