Ankara military doctors face arrest warrants for 'Gulen ties'

Ankara military doctors face arrest warrants for 'Gulen ties'
Authorities issue arrest warrants for 100 medical staff, including doctors, suspected of ties with Fethullah Gulen, demand for whose extradition from US was renewed on Tuesday.
3 min read
02 August, 2016
Ankara has demanded Gulen's extradition over the failed coup [Getty]
Turkey issued on Tuesday arrest warrants for 100 staff, including doctors, at the main military hospital in Ankara as part of an investigation into last month's failed coup, a Turkish official and reports said.

Police were searching the Gulhane Military Medical Academy [GATA] hospital in the capital, the private NTV television reported. It was not immediately clear if any suspects had been detained.

The Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to AFP that detention warrants had been issued without giving any number.

Turkey blames the coup attempt on the organisation of US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara accuses of running a group called Fethullah Terror Organisation [FETO], charges he denied.

The official said that staff at the hospital were suspected of helping fast-track Gulen supporters into the military by giving them favourable medical reports.

"GATA is crucial because this is where fitness and health reports are issued," the official said.

"There is strong evidence suggesting FETO members infiltrated this institution to slow down the career progress of their rivals within the military and fast-track their supporters."

Similar claims have also been made about military schools where officials have said exams were rigged. Almost half of Turkey's generals were fired in the wake of the coup.

This is believed to be the first time a medical establishment has been targeted in the clampdown, which has also hit journalists and academics.

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Under a previous decree, GATA and other military hospitals have been transferred to the control of the health ministry.

Renewed demands for Gulen's extradition

Also on Tuesday, Turkey's justice minister Bekir Bozdag sent a "second written document" to the US requesting Gulen's arrest, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

Ankara has demanded Gulen's extradition over the failed coup, but Washington has asked for evidence of the cleric's involvement.

"They requested certain information following our first letter; we provided answers to the question 'why is it urgent'," Anadolu quoted Bozdag as telling reporters in parliament.

"We wrote to them that there are serious claims and statements that Fethullah Gulen has a finger in the attempted coup. That is why he needs to be detained urgently. [We wrote] that we have intelligence that he can escape to third countries," Bozdag said.

"I hope that the United States decides in Turkey's favour, in line with democracy and the rule of law, and returns this leader of a terror organization to Turkey."

If Gulen leaves the US for another country, it would be with the full knowledge of US authorities, the minister added.

"If he escapes then the US would either have turned a blind eye or approved of it," Bozdag said.

Part of the crackdown against Gulen's network has focused on reforming the military, bringing it increasingly under civilian command.

About 18,000 people have been detained or arrested, most of them from the military, while authorities have said the purge of those suspected of links to Gulen in the military will continue.

Agencies contributed to this report.