Turkey orders detention of 51 accused of Gülen links

Turkish police on Saturday started a multi-province operation to detain 51 people sought over links to a religious group accused of orchestrating the 2016 coup attempt, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

A total of 26 of the 51 suspects accused of membership in the Gülen movement have been taken into police custody in operations held in İstanbul, Adıyaman, Ankara, İzmir, Kocaeli, Manisa and Van provinces, Anadolu said.

The government blames the Gülen movement, a former ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), for the failed coup attempt in July 2016 and has designated the group a terrorist organisation. Ankara maintains the Gülen movement was behind the failed putsch and a long-running scheme to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by infiltrating Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

Ankara began sweeping purges of people it accused of links to the movement after surviving the July 2016 coup attempt. Its U.S.-based leader, Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen, denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

Police are continuing to search the remaining suspects’ homes, Anadolu said.