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Turkey police arrest Gulen's brother in coup probe

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)
Police officers stand next to demonstrators protesting in front of the High Education Board (YOK) against the suspension of academics from universities following a post-coup emergency decree in Ankara on September 22, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey’s police have detained a brother of US-based preacher, Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish officials accuse of being behind the July 15 coup attempt.

Kutbettin Gulen was arrested in Gaziemir district of the western province of Izmir on Sunday, Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported, adding that he was accused of “membership of an armed terror group."

According to Turkish media reports, Gulen has five brothers and two sisters, but their current whereabouts are unknown.

Some of Gulen’s close relatives have been arrested across Turkey over the past months.

In July, police detained Gulen's nephew, Muhammet Sait Gulen, in the eastern city of Erzurum, long seen as one of the hubs for his supporters. Ahmet Ramiz Gulen, another nephew, was arrested in August in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.

Shortly after the coup attempt was suppressed on July 16, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Gulen of being behind it.

Gulen was once regarded as a major ally of Erdogan, but relations between the two soured in 2013, when police and prosecutors seen as close to Gulen opened a corruption probe into the inner circle of Erdogan, who was then prime minister.

Numerous police operations have been conducted since the summer of 2014 to round up allies of Gulen with thousands, including police officers, prosecutors and judges, sacked or reassigned over links to Gulen.

Gulen has been based in the United States since 1999, when he fled after former secular authorities leveled charges against him.

Turkish opposition figure, Fethullah Gulen, at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, the United States (Photo by AFP)

Gulen has denied any involvement in the failed coup and warned that the blame game could be a ploy by the ruling Justice and Development Party to cement its grip on power.

Gulen’s supporters ridicule the description of his group by the Turkish authorities as the Fethullah Terror Organization (FETO), saying he merely runs a peaceful organization called Hizmet (service).

Ankara’s request for the cleric’s extradition has faced cold response from Washington.

Official figures show some 32,000 people have been arrested for their alleged role in the coup attempt. Nearly 100,000 people in the military, civil service, police and judiciary have been sacked or suspended.

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