Turkish police launch nationwide raids, arrest 350 over Gulen ties

Turkish police launch nationwide raids, arrest 350 over Gulen ties
Authorities have arrested more than 77,000 people as part of an ever-widening crackdown since the failed July 2016 coup attempt.
2 min read
06 July, 2018
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the eve of the 24 June elections [Getty]

Turkish police on Friday launched raids in 47 provinces across the country, arresting nearly 350 people including soldiers accused of links to the Gulenist movement Ankara blames for the failed July 2016 coup.

Prosecutors in Istanbul issued arrest warrants for 271 soldiers, 122 of whom are still on active duty. 

The Gulen movement was founded by US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who was a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist Justice and Development party.

Gulen denies any involvement in the attempted putsch, which took place on 15 July, 2016. 

More than 77,000 people including military personnel have been arrested over alleged Gulen links under the post-coup state of emergency imposed nearly two years ago.

Ankara's Western allies including the European Union have expressed concern over the scale of the purge which has seen more than 140,000 people suspended or sacked from the public sector, including judges, soldiers and police. 

But Ankara insists the raids are necessary to remove the "virus" caused by the Gulen movement's infiltration of key Turkish institutions.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, insists his movement is peaceful.

President Erdogan recently won the presidential election on 24 June with 52.6 percent of the vote.

Erdogan will now rule with substantially expanded powers in line with constitutional changes that were narrowly approved in a referendum last year. He will be able to form and regulate ministries and remove civil servants, all without parliamentary approval. 

Critics say the constitutional changes pave the way for one-man rule in Turkey.

Erdogan vowed to lift emergency rule after the 24 June election. He will be sworn in on Monday. 

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab