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Turkey issues arrest warrant for dozens linked to Gulen

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Fethullah Gulen, the US-based Turkish opposition cleric ©AFP

Turkey has issued arrest warrants for top opposition figure Fethullah Gulen and tens of others accused of having alleged links to a terror group, in what is seen as a new attempt by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government to counter the influence of its ally-turned-foe.

On Friday, Turkish prosecutors issued 67 arrest warrants, while security forces launched fresh raids in several Turkish cities, including the capital Ankara, to arrest the suspects in a vast probe into the activities of the US-based opposition figure, the Anadolu news agency reported.

According to the report, 43 of the 67 sought by the authorities are based outside Turkish borders.

Turkish media said Gulen, who is accused of creating a network “parallel state” within Turkey, is at the top of the list of the wanted suspects. Erdogan claims Gulen, who was once his ally, has secret influence in the police and judiciary as well as national politics.

A former deputy of Erdogan’s AK Party was among five people detained in operations on Friday. Ilhan Isbilen had resigned from the ruling party after a corruption investigation that affected Erdogan’s inner circle about two years ago.

Since then, Erdogan has launched a campaign to purge the police and judiciary of what he sees as a network of conspirators and terrorists at home and abroad.

Chief suspects among the so-called Gulen network include the former editor-in-chief of newspaper Daily Zaman Ekrem Dumanli, the chief executive of the Koza Ipek group Akin Ipek, and the president of Istanbul’s Fatih University.

The arrest warrant for Gulen is not the first issued against him in Turkey. However, the United States has not extradited him from the state of Pennsylvania where he has lived and worked with followers since March 1999.

Earlier this week, US lawyers hired by the Turkish government filed a civil suit against Gulen in a US court alleging human rights abuses, in the first such action against the cleric outside Turkey.

Ankara has also imposed tough restrictions on a large network of schools run by Gulen in Turkey and overseas.

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