Police in Turkey have launched a series of raids across the country, arresting 68 people as part of a probe into the Gulen movement.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said on Tuesday that suspects were held in raids carried out in 22 provinces in an investigation into their alleged links to Fethullah Gulen, a cleric based in the United States. He is seen as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s main foe.
The report said those arrested include former police chiefs, businessmen, academics, municipality workers and employees of state-run broadcaster TRT. It said arrest warrants have been issued for a total of 120 people in relation to the case, adding that several of the wanted suspects are believed to be abroad.
Erdogan accuses Gulen of running a “parallel state” aimed at usurping him.
Gulen was once regarded as a major ally for Erdogan, but relations broke in 2013 when police and prosecutors seen as close to Gulen opened a corruption probe into the inner circle of Erdogan, who was then the prime minister.
Numerous police operations have been carried out since the summer of 2014 to round up allies of Gulen with thousands, including police officers, prosecutors and judges, sacked or reassigned over links to Gulen. Reports said the raids on Tuesday were the biggest to date.
Last month, Turkish authorities forcibly seized Turkey’s best-selling Zaman newspaper and its affiliates, sparking international outrage over the country’s deteriorating climate for freedom of speech.
Gulen has been based in the United States since 1999, when he fled charges against him laid by the former authorities. Ankara’s request for the cleric’s extradition has been denied repeatedly by Washington.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited from the original.