Turkey orders arrest of nearly 200 people over suspected Gulen ties

Police operations targeting the followers of Fethullah Gulen have been carried out regularly since the failed coup and have recently gained momentum. (File/AFP)
Updated 15 January 2019
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Turkey orders arrest of nearly 200 people over suspected Gulen ties

  • Police operations targeting the followers of Fethullah Gulen have been carried out regularly since the failed coup and have recently gained momentum
  • More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended

ISTANBUL: Turkey ordered the arrest of 192 people over suspected links to the network of the US-based Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating an attempted coup in 2016, the Hurriyet newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Police operations targeting the followers of Fethullah Gulen have been carried out regularly since the failed coup and have recently gained momentum. Authorities in Istanbul and Adana ordered the arrest of more than 100 military suspects last week.
The Ankara chief prosecutor’s office said it ordered the arrest of 50 military suspects — 3 lieutenants and 47 sergeants — as well as 55 people accused of using the ByLock messaging app, the newspaper reported.
Turkey outlawed ByLock in the aftermath of the failed putsch, saying followers of Gulen used it to communicate on the night of July 15, 2016, when a group of rogue soldiers attempted to overthrow the government, killing some 250 people.
Gulen, a former ally of President Tayyip Erdogan who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, has denied the charges and condemned the coup.
The prosecutor’s office in the central province of Konya ordered the detention of 50 people, including military personnel and their contacts in the Gulen network, the newspaper said.
The prosecutor’s offices of two other provinces, Mugla and Kocaeli, ordered the detention of 15 and 22 military personnel respectively.
More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs as part of the post-coup purges.
Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concerns over the crackdown, saying President Tayyip Erdogan has used the abortive coup as a pretext to quash dissent. The government has said the security measures were necessary due to the gravity of the threat Turkey faces.


US official meets in Lebanon over anti-Hezbollah sanctions

Updated 19 min 39 sec ago

US official meets in Lebanon over anti-Hezbollah sanctions

  • Lebanon’s Central Bank chief Riad Salameh played down reports in local media that the US will impose further sanctions

BEIRUT: A senior United States Treasury official was visiting Beirut on Monday, where he’s explaining the motives behind recent US sanctions targeting Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, Lebanon’s central bank governor said.
Treasury Department Assistant Secretary Marshall Billingslea met with the prime minister and the speaker of parliament, as well as officials from the Association of Banks in Lebanon and the central bank governor.
Hezbollah holds three cabinet seats, and along with its allies has more power than ever in the parliament and government. It is also among the most effective armed groups in the region, extending Iran’s influence to Israel’s doorstep. Domestically, the group’s power exceeds that of the Lebanese armed forces.
Lebanon’s Central Bank chief Riad Salameh played down reports in local media that the US will impose further sanctions on the country’s dollar-strapped banking system. He said Billingslea “is not coming here to squeeze Lebanon.”
A US embassy statement said Billingslea “will encourage Lebanon to take the necessary steps to maintain distance from Hezbollah and other malign actors attempting to destabilize Lebanon and its institutions.”
Last month, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned Jammal Trust Bank and added it to its list of global terrorist organizations. The bank denied US charges about “knowingly facilitating banking activities” for Hezbollah militants.
The bank last week was forced to request self-liquidation and the move was accepted by the central bank governor.
The US has been imposing sanctions on Hezbollah for years, as Washington considers the group a terrorist organization. Such steps have increased in recent months as the Trump administration is using “maximum pressure” against Iran, Hezbollah’s main backer.
In July, the Treasury Department targeted a Hezbollah security official and two members of Lebanon’s parliament, saying they are suspected of using their positions to further the aims of the militant group and “bolster Iran’s malign activities.” It was the first time Washington targeted Hezbollah legislators.
Hezbollah, whose Arabic name translates as “Party of God,” was established by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard months after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982.