Turkey detains thousands in crackdown on alleged Gulen supporters

Turkey detains thousands in crackdown on alleged Gulen supporters
Turkey detained more than 1,000 suspects in a massive new crackdown on alleged supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen on Wednesday, who Ankara accuses of masterminding the failed coup.
2 min read
26 April, 2017
Thousands of people have been arrested during Turkey's state of emergency [Getty]

More than 1,000 suspected supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen were detained by Turkey on Wednesday, in a massive new crackdown a week after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a referendum on ramping up his powers.

A total of 1,009 suspects have so far been detained in raids across 72 provinces, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu was quoted as saying by the official Anadolu news agency.

"It is an important step for the Turkish Republic," he added, indicating that the numbers of those detained were set to rise. 

Some 8,500 police officers were involved in the nationwide operation and arrest warrants were issued for 390 suspects in Istanbul alone, Anadolu reported.

The raids came shortly after Erdogan won a key referendum on April 16 that approved constitutional changes expanding his powers, in a tighter-than-expected result. 

The 'Yes' camp won 51.41 percent of the vote but opponents claim the result would have been reversed in a fair poll.

Read also: After the 'yes' vote, what next for Turkey?

Turkish authorities accuse Gulen and his Hizmet (Service) movement of masterminding the failed July military coup that aimed to oust Erdogan from power, however the US-based cleric denies the charges.

Ankara considers the Hizmet movement a "terror organisation" although the group insists it is a peaceful organisation promoting moderate Islam. 

The government has repeatedly asked the United States to extradite Gulen, who has been living in exile there since 1999.

Some 47,000 people have already been arrested in Turkey under a nine month state of emergency in place since the coup bid, a crackdown whose magnitude has raised alarm in the West.

Turkey extended the state of emergency by another three months to July 19.

The state of emergency has been renewed twice before in October and January after it was first declared on July 20, five days after the attempted putsch.

Under the state of emergency, over 47,000 people have been arrested on suspicion of links to the coup while tens of thousands more people working in the public sector have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs.

Many are academics, police officers, journalists and teachers as well as judges and prosecutors. The crackdown has been heavily criticised by Turkey's Western allies.