Turkey suspends 9,000 police officers in anti-Gulen crackdown

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan narrowly won a controversial 16 April referendum on increasing his powers.

Turkey’s police force has suspended more than 9,000 officers over alleged links to the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen.

It said the action had been taken on the grounds of national security.

President Tayyip Erdogan accuses Mr. Gulen of instigating a failed coup against him last July – a charge the cleric denies.

Earlier, authorities detained more than 1,000 people in the latest operation against alleged Gulen supporters.

The nationwide sweep was one of the largest such operations carried out in Turkey in months.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said it had targeted a Gulen network “that infiltrated our police force, called “secret imams’“.

He said more than “secret imams” had been detained and the operation was continuing.

In the aftermath of the 15 July coup attempt, which was led by military officers, 40,000 people were arrested and 120,000 sacked or suspended.

They included soldiers, police, teachers, and public servants – all of whom were accused of having links with militant groups.

The latest purge comes just over a week after President Erdogan narrowly won a controversial referendum on increasing his powers.

Opponents fear the victory, which has bitterly divided Turkey, brings him closer to authoritarian rule.

The “Yes” camp officially won 51.41% of the vote on 16 April, but opposition parties and European election observers say it was marred by irregularities.

Two days after the referendum, Turkey’s parliament extended a nine-month state of emergency by a further three months.

The scale of the “anti-Gulen” arrests has raised alarm in Europe, and stalled Turkey’s bid to join the EU.

After the latest sweep, Germany’s foreign ministry said it had “taken note of the mass detentions with concern”.

  

Zainab Sa’id