Turkey holds alleged Gülen group members after arrest on Ukraine-Poland border

Turkey is holding two senior members of the Fethullah Gülen movement after they were arrested on Ukraine's border with Poland, the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency said on Wednesday.

The two men, Salih Fidan and Samet Gure, previously worked as teachers in Iraq. They served as the movement’s chiefs in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Erbil, Anadolu said.

Fidan fled Turkey with his wife in the immediate aftermath of a military coup attempt in July 2016, which the government says was masterminded by the group, according to Anadolu.

A Turkish court had issued arrest warrants for both men for their suspected membership of the organisation, the news agency reported, citing an Interior Ministry statement.

The arrival and detention of Fidan and Gure in Turkey comes after Ukraine and Turkey signed cooperation agreements and agreed to bolster their ties in areas such as defence and the economy. A month ago, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal visited Ankara, holding talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Thousands of members and sympathisers of the Gülen movement, as well as other Turkish opposition figures, have fled the country since the failed coup, fearing persecution and arrest. Turkey has rounded up thousands of the Gülen group’s alleged followers since the putsch and sacked thousands more from state institutions.

The movement and its leader, Fethullah Gülen, are former political allies of Erdoğan. Relations began souring after Erdoğan’s government began a crackdown on the group’s private educational institutions almost a decade ago and police launched a corruption probe against ministers of Erdoğan’s government at the end of 2013.

The two suspects are in Turkey’s capital Ankara, where they are being processed at the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, Anadolu said.