ANKARA — Turkish police conducted raids in a dozen cities on Dec. 14, detaining at least 23 people — including journalists, television producers and police — known to be close to a movement led by a U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric, the country’s state-run news agency reported.
The government accuses cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement, a former ally, of orchestrating an alleged plot to try and bring down the government. It says the group’s followers were behind corruption allegations that last year forced four Cabinet ministers to resign. Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, denies the accusations.
The Anadolu Agency says a court issued a warrant to arrest 32 people connected to the group and that 23 of them were detained in raids in Istanbul and other cities across Turkey early Dec. 13.
Those with arrest warrants included Ekrem Dumanli, the chief editor of Zaman newspaper, and Hidayet Karaca, the Chief Executive of Samanyolu television, Anadolu reported. Zaman and Samanyolu are affiliated with Gulen’s movement.
Dozens of people gathered outside Zaman’s headquarters in Istanbul to protest the detentions, shouting: “Free press cannot be silenced.” Turkey’s journalism associations also denounced the raids targeting journalists.
It was the latest in a wave of arrests targeting Gulen’s group. Several police officers were arrested earlier this year for alleged illegal wiretaps and other charges.
The government has said it wants Gulen extradited to Turkey from the United States. Many see his moderate movement as an alternative to the more radical interpretations of Islam.