Turkey Detains Alleged Gulen Supporters
In a massive crackdown, Turkey detains 1,000 alleged Fethullah Gulen supporters.
A total of 1,009 suspects have so far been detained in raids in 72 provinces across the country, according to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.
Around 8,500 police officers were involved in the nationwide operation. Arrest warrants were issued for 390 suspects in Istanbul alone. Soylu also indicated that the numbers were set to rise as the raids are continuing.
“It is an important step for the Turkish Republic,” he added.
Fethullah Gulen is a Turkish exile whom resides in the United States and has since 1999. He was once an ally of President Erdogan but the partnership ended after a corruption investigation within the Turkish government. Erdogan blames Gulen for the investigation and labeled him a terrorist. Erdogan and his supporters have repeatedly tried to have him extricated back to Turkey. However, U.S. officials have refused to comply without evidence of his “terrorism”.
Most assume Erdogen wishes to silence him as he advocates for more freedom and a “peaceful Islam”. Most recently, Gulen has been blamed by the Turkish authorities for masterminding the July failed military coup that aimed to oust Erdogan from power. Gulen has denied these charges.
The raids come shortly after Erdogan won a key referendum that approved constitutional changes expanding his powers. The vote was a tighter-than-expected result. Voting officials began claiming a multitude of fraud and intimidation charges within minutes of the vote outcome announcement.
The ‘Yes’ camp won 51.41 percent of the vote but opponents claim the result would have been reversed in a fair poll.
Some 47,000 people have already been arrested in Turkey under a nine month state of emergency in place since the coup bid. The massive amount of arrests has raised alarm in the West. The Turkish parliament has extended the state of emergency by another three months. It is currently set to expire on July 19th.