TEHRAN, April 26, YJC - Turkish authorities detained over 1,000 people suspected of links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen overnight Wednesday, in one of the largest operations in months against the network which Turkey blames for a failed coup in July last year.
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -
They said the crackdown targeted the network’s structure in the police force. Detention orders had been issued for 1,000 people, who were arrested in operations carried out across all 81 of Turkey’s provinces.
After the abortive coup in July 2016, authorities arrested 40,000 people and sacked or suspended 120,000 others from a wide range of professions, including soldiers, police, teachers, and public servants, over alleged links with terrorist groups.
The latest arrests come 10 days after a tightly contested referendum approved the expansion of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers, according to preliminary results.
The referendum bitterly divided Turkey. Erdogan argues that strengthening the presidency will avert instability associated with coalition governments, at a time when Turkey also faces security threats from extremist militants.
But Erdogan’s critics fear a further drift into authoritarianism, with a leader they see as bent on eroding modern Turkey’s democracy.
Mass detentions immediately after the attempted coup were supported by many Turks, who agreed with Erdogan when he blamed Gulen for orchestrating the abortive putsch, which killed 240 people, mostly civilians. But criticism mounted as the arrests widened.