Turkey orders 1,112 arrested in Gülen crackdown

The government of Turkey has ordered the arrests of 1,112 people over alleged links to the Gülen religious movement, which the government blames for orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt, Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Tuesday.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has pursued an aggressive hunt for Gülenists both in Turkey and abroad since it survived the coup attempt by factions within the Turkish armed forces on July 15, 2016.

The AKP says these factions were headed by Gülenist officers who had infiltrated the military, and that the coup attempt was abetted by Gülenists in other state institutions and in the media.

The movement’s leader, Islamist cleric Fethullah Gülen, denies any involvement in the coup attempt, in which over 250 people died.

The latest round of arrests targets police officers the government alleges are linked to the Gülen movement, which it says helped them cheat on an advancement exam in 2010.

One hundred and twenty-four people have been arrested so far in the operation, Reuters reported on Tuesday evening.

Thousands of civil servants, legal professionals, teachers and academics with alleged links to the Gülen movement have been purged or arrested, the majority of these in a two-year state of emergency implemented after the coup attempt and in place until last July.

Critics of the AKP government say it has used the coup attempt to quash dissent and tighten its hold over state institutions by replacing alleged Gülenist officials with AKP loyalists.

The religious movement, however, is widely thought in Turkey to have cultivated influence over important state institutions over decades. Once on friendly terms with the AKP government, the apparent conflict between the two sides hit headlines in December 2013, when prosecutors and police reportedly linked to the Gülen movement launched corruption probes on senior AKP officials.