Over 1,000 “Secret Imams” arresred in Turkey – Photo


Turkish police launched simultaneous operations across the country yesterday, detaining more than 1,000 people with suspected links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

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Warrants were issued for the detention of some 2,200 other suspects, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

At least 1,013 have been detained so far in one of the largest operations against the Gulen movement in recent months, according to Anadolu.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the operation comprised all of Turkey’s 81 provinces, describing it as an important step toward the government’s aim of “bringing down” the Gulen movement.

The suspects are allegedly Gulen operatives called “secret imams”, accused of directing followers within the police force.

Mr Soylu said they allegedly “infiltrated the police, tried to lead it from the outside by forming an alternative structure, (by) ignoring the state.”

The detentions are part of a widespread crackdown following last summer’s failed coup attempt, which Turkey says was orchestrated by Gulen’s movement. More than 47,000 people have been arrested since the coup, Mr Soylu has said, including 10,700 police officers and 7,400 military personnel.

Some 8,500 police officers participated in yesterday’s operation, Anadolu reported.

Gulen has denied orchestrating the coup. Turkey is pressing the US to extradite him.

The move followed calls yesterday for the EU to formally suspend Turkey’s long-stalled talks on membership if it adopts constitutional changes backed at a referendum last week.

A leading member of the EU parliament responsible for dealings with Ankara, Kati Piri, said that if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan implemented his new charter, giving him even more powers, Turkey would close the door on membership.

Mr Erdogan said Turkey would not wait forever to join the bloc, just a day after the EU executive’s top official for membership talks asked Europe’s foreign ministers to consider other types of ties with Turkey when they meet tomorrow.

Ties between EU states and their Nato ally Turkey soured in the aftermath of a failed coup last July as the bloc was taken aback by Mr Erdogan’s sweeping security crackdown that followed.

Meanwhile, mortar fire from an area assessed to be under the control of Syrian government forces hit a military outpost in Turkey’s southeastern province of Hatay, the Turkish army said yesterday, adding it had retaliated in kind after the attack.

The army said a separate cross-border mortar attack had been carried out on a different military outpost, also in Hatay, by members of the Kurdish militant YPG earlier yesterday.

Source: independent.ie

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