April 5, 2016 / 12:57 PM / 2 years ago

Turkish police detain 68 people over links to cleric Gulen: Anadolu

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Police detained 68 people across Turkey on Tuesday in an investigation into their alleged financial links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, an-ally-turned-foe of President Tayyip Erdogan, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

It said suspects held in the raids across 22 provinces included former police chiefs, businessmen, academics, municipality workers and employees of state-run broadcaster TRT.

Citing police fraud squad sources, Anadolu said arrest warrants for a total of 120 people have been issued as part of the latest ‘Gulenist terror group’ probe.

Erdogan accuses Gulen of setting up a ‘parallel state’ and conspiring to unseat the government with a network of supporters in the judiciary, police and media. Gulen, whose adherents run schools and are active in the media sector, denies the charges.

A Turkish court in December 2014 issued an arrest warrant against the cleric, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States for more than a decade, accusing him of heading a criminal organization.

The two men were allies until police and prosecutors seen as sympathetic to Gulen opened a corruption probe into Erdogan’s inner circle in 2013. Thousands of police officers, prosecutors and judges were sacked or reassigned for alleged links to Gulen.

Authorities have seized and shut down opposition media outlets associated with the Gulen movement, with most recently Turkey’s best-selling Zaman newspaper in early March, a move that drew criticism from rights groups and European officials.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Daren Butler and Richard Balmforth

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