(Corrects date of declaration as a terrorist network to May
2016 in last paragraph)
ANKARA Dec 10 Turkish authorities issued arrest
warrants for 55 people, including businessmen, suspected of
giving financial support to the network of the U.S.-based cleric
Ankara accuses of orchestrating a failed military coup in July,
broadcaster NTV said.
The businessmen suspected of being linked to the cleric's
network allegedly carried large sums of cash, which they have
called a "favour", back and forth between Turkey, Tanzania,
Uganda and Kazakhstan since 2014, NTV said.
Ankara accuses the cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating
the July 15 coup bid, in which rogue soldiers commandeered
tanks, fighter jets and helicopters to attack the parliament and
attempt to overthrow the government. Gulen, who has lived in
self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has denied
involvement and condemned the coup.
Police from the Istanbul financial-crimes unit conducted
operations in 57 separate addresses on Saturday to root out
sympathisers of Gulen, NTV said. Authorities have detained some
of the suspects in the operations, while others are still being
sought, NTV said, adding that some were found to be using
Bylock, a smartphone messaging app which Ankara says was used by
Gulen's adherents as a communication tool.
Turkey has so far jailed some 36,000 people pending trial
and has suspended or dismissed more than 100,000 people from the
military, judiciary, civil service and others in the crackdown.
Turkey's Western allies have voiced concern at the extent of
the purges under President Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly
rejected such criticism, saying Ankara is determined to root out
its enemies at home and abroad.
Turkey classified Gulen's movement, which espouses
philanthropy, interfaith dialogue and science-based education,
as a terrorist network in May 2016. It says Gulen's followers
spent four decades infiltrating the bureaucracy and security
forces in a bid to eventually take control of the state.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu, editing by Louise Heavens)