68 detained in new operations against Gülenists

Published 05.04.2016 22:40
Updated 05.04.2016 22:41

Police detained 68 people Tuesday in operations in 22 cities in a major crackdown against the shady Gülen Movement, which is accused of running a terrorist organization known as the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ).

Police squads stormed the houses and offices of suspects all across the country as part of a string of criminal inquiries initiated by prosecutors. Officials said 120 people were given detention warrants, and operations were part of efforts to bring them to justice. The remaining suspects are believed to have fled abroad or in hiding in Turkey. Operations focused on FETÖ's financial activities, which originated within the Gülen Movement, headed by U.S.-based retired preacher Fethullah Gülen. Among the detainees were businesspeople, teachers, academics and heads of nongovernmental organizations linked to Gülenists. The operations resulted from an investigation by the Financial Crimes Department and state agencies looking into allegations concerning the financing of FETÖ, Anadolu Agency reported, quoting police sources.

Operations were conducted in the capital Ankara; the southern cities of Adıyaman, Gaziantep, and Kilis; the northern cities of Samsun and Gümüşhane, as well as Antalya on the Mediterranean coast. AA reported that suspects include "imams" for FETÖ, administrators of the Gülen Movement who are accused of orchestrating group activities on behalf of Fethullah Gülen, the prime suspect in all the investigations against Gülenists.

The suspects face accusations of financing FETÖ through charity donations - called "himmet" by the movement's followers - which they collected from unsuspecting followers of Gülen, or through extortion of businesspeople.

The Gülen Movement, which over the past three years has seen members and sympathizers purged from state institutions including the police and judiciary, was designated by authorities as a national threat, a classification used for terrorist organizations, following two coup attempts by movement followers and accomplices.

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