Days After Election Victory, Erdogan Detains 132 Security Staff Over Alleged Links to Opposition Cleric

Turkish authorities have detained 132 people including army, navy, coastguard and security personnel in an effort to quash followers of Fetullah Gulen

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan greeting supporters gathered above a balcony at the headquarters of the AK Party in Ankara, June 24, 2018.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan greeting supporters gathered above a balcony at the headquarters of the AK Party in Ankara, June 24, 2018.Credit: KAYHAN OZER/AFP

Turkish authorities have ordered the detention of 132 people in nationwide operations targeting suspected supporters of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating a failed coup two years ago, the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday.

Early on Tuesday, authorities ordered the detention of 30 people in Turkey's coastguard and navy over their alleged links to Fethullah Gulen's network, Anadolu said.

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In a separate series of operations, authorities ordered the detention of 102 others, including soldiers and security personnel, across 23 provinces, Anadolu said.

Authorities have regularly carried out such operations against alleged Gulen supporters since the July 2016 coup attempt under a state of emergency that limits certain freedoms and extends the detention time for questioning of suspects.

The latest operations came two days after presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey. President Tayyip Erdogan won a further five years in power and his AK Party and its nationalist allies secured a majority in the new parliament.

Erdogan has also gained sweeping executive powers under a new constitution backed by a narrow majority of voters in a 2017 referendum that took effect after Sunday's elections.

Turkey has detained 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number of state employees since the abortive putsch, the United Nations said in March. Of that number, more than 50,000 have been formally charged and kept in jail during trial.

Turkey's Western allies and human rights groups have criticised the scale of the crackdown, and Erdogan's critics say Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to quash dissent, a charge he denies.

Erdogan and his AK Party say the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.

Gulen, a former Erdogan ally who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies involvement in the attempted coup, in which at least 240 people were killed.

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