Turkey orders arrest of 158 suspects with links to Muslim cleric Gulen, accused of being behind 2016 coup attempt

Turkish prosecutors have ordered the arrest of 158 suspects, including 33 active-duty soldiers, with alleged links to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Ankara of being behind the unsuccessful 2016 coup attempt.

The investigations, carried out by the ─░zmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, spanned 41 provinces, state-owned Anadolu agency said on Tuesday. The latest operation saw 97 people detained, with the search said to be continuing.

Out of the 158 wanted suspects, 48 were serving and former military personnel, while 110 were expelled military students who were dismissed after the coup attempt.

The latest arrests are part of a chain of crackdowns over recent years on people accused of having connections to what has been dubbed by Turkey as the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization.

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FILE PHOTO. A Turkish riot police officer stands guard in front of the Justice Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.
Turkey orders 500+ arrests of suspects thought to be linked to US-based cleric Gulen

In April, the arrest of 532 suspects, mainly serving military personnel, was ordered by Istanbul and Izmir prosecutors in a 62-province operation that also spanned Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus.

The group, allegedly led by the US-based Muslim preacher, has been accused by Ankara’s authorities of being behind the failed coup attempt in July 2016, which saw at least 250 people killed. Gulen, a former ally turned foe of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has lived in self-exile since 1999 overseas in the US. He denies any involvement in the coup.

Following the failed military takeover to overthrow Erdogan, 80,000 people were detained pending trial. Some 150,000 civil servants, military staff and others were either fired or suspended from their posts.

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