Turkey orders 1,112 people arrested over Gulen links

Turkey accused Fethullah Gulen, above, of organizing the attempted coup in 2016. (AFP/File)
Updated 12 February 2019
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Turkey orders 1,112 people arrested over Gulen links

  • Turkey suspects Gulen in organizing the 2016 coup attempt
  • The operation was focused on Ankara

ISTANBUL: Turkey launched on Tuesday one of its largest operations against alleged supporters of the US-based Muslim cleric accused of leading an attempted coup in 2016, ordering the arrest of 1,112 people, state media reported.

The operation, related to alleged cheating in police examinations, showed authorities were not letting up on their crackdown two-and-a-half years after rogue soldiers used warplanes, helicopters and tanks in a bid to seize power.

More than 250 people were killed in the failed putsch, in which preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of President Tayyip Erdogan, has denied involvement. Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

Tuesday’s operation related to a police force examination in 2010 for those seeking to become deputy inspectors, and allegations that some of those taking part had received the questions in advance, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

So far 124 suspects have been detained in the operation launched by the Ankara chief prosecutor’s office and extending across 76 provinces, Anadolu said. It was not clear how many, if any, of the suspects were serving police officers.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Sunday a “big operation” was looming against Gulen supporters. “Devils would not perpetrate deceptions like they have,” he said. “We will finish them off.”

The government says his network over decades infiltrated state institutions including the security forces, judiciary and ministries, often helped by cheating in exams, to create a “parallel state.”

Purge of suspects

Since the coup attempt, the government has carried out a deep and lasting purge of state institutions while prosecutors have launched a steady stream of investigations against those suspected of links to Gulen.

Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the crackdown, which was pursued mainly under a state of emergency that was declared after the coup and remained in effect until July last year.

Erdogan’s critics accuse him of using the failed putsch as a pretext to quash dissent. Turkish authorities say the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.

More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial since the putsch and widespread arrests are still routine. Authorities have suspended or sacked 150,000 civil servants and military personnel.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, the former chief of staff, has said more than 15,000 military personnel had been dismissed since the coup, including 150 generals and admirals.

Authorities have also taken control of hundreds of firms accused of links to Gulen and his supporters, and shut down more than 130 media outlets as part of the purge.

Ankara has also increasingly targeted alleged supporters of the movement abroad, seeking the extradition of Gulen himself and many others across Europe, Asia and the United States.


Syria's return to Arab League not on summit agenda: spokesman

Updated 9 min 28 sec ago
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Syria's return to Arab League not on summit agenda: spokesman

  • The pan-Arab bloc, which is set to hold its annual summit in Tunisia on March 31, froze Syria's membership in November 2011 over a bloody government crackdown on protestors
  • But several of the bloc's other 21 members have recently renewed ties with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad

CAIRO: The Arab League said Sunday it was not planning to discuss reinstating Syria's membership at a summit later this month, more than eight years after suspending it as the country descended into war.
The pan-Arab bloc, which is set to hold its annual summit in Tunisia on March 31, froze Syria's membership in November 2011 over a bloody government crackdown on protestors.
But several of the bloc's other 21 members have recently renewed ties with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and some have called for Syria to be re-admitted to the league.
"The issue of Syria's return to the Arab League has yet to be listed on the agenda and has not been formally proposed," said the League's spokesman Mahmoud Afifi.
He noted that the "Syrian crisis" however still tops the agenda, along with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the situation in Yemen and Libya.
Syria's conflict flared in 2011 with anti-government demonstrations that sparked a brutal regime crackdown.
It has since drawn in regional powers, killing 370,000 people and displacing millions.
But the regime, backed by allies Russia and Iran, has since re-conquered much of the territory it had lost to rebels and terrorists, and now controls some two-thirds of the country.
Syria's Kurds, which declared victory over Daesh on Saturday, control much of the oil-rich northeast, which the regime has hinted it may seize back in a military operation.
Earlier this month, Syrian officials attended a meeting of Arab states in neighbouring Jordan for the first time since the country's Arab League membership was suspended.
Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir in December made the first visit of any Arab leader to the Syrian capital since 2011.
The same month, Egypt hosted Syria's national security chief and top Assad aide Ali Mamluk.
The UAE also reopened its Damascus embassy in a major sign of a diplomatic thaw.
Arab states have also slammed US President Donald Trump's call for recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a strategic territory the Jewish state seized from Syria in 1967.