Turkey police arrest Gulen’s brother in coup probe

Turkey’s police have detained a brother of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish officials accuse of being behind the July 15 coup attempt.

Kutbettin Gulen was arrested in Gaziemir district of the western province of Izmir on Sunday, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported.

Kutbettin, who is accused of “membership of an armed terror group,” is currently being questioned by anti-terror police.

According to Turkish media reports, Gulen has five brothers and two sisters. Their current whereabouts are unknown.

Some of Gulen’s close relatives have been arrested across Turkey over the past months.

In July, police detained Gulen’s nephew Muhammet Sait Gulen in the eastern city of Erzurum, long seen as one of the hubs for his supporters. Ahmet Ramiz Gulen, another nephew, was arrested in August in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.

Shortly after the coup attempt was largely suppressed on July 16, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Gulen of being behind it.

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 prime minister.

Numerous police operations have been conducted 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.

Gulen has been based in the United States since 1999, when he fled charges against him laid by former secular authorities.

Turkish Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, the United States (Via AFP)

Gulen has denied any involvement in the failed coup and warned that the blame game could be a ploy by the ruling Justice and Development Party to cement its grip on power.

Gulen’s supporters ridicule the description of his group by the Turkish authorities as the Fethullah Terror Organization (FETO), saying he merely runs a peaceful organization called Hizmet (service).

Ankara’s request for the cleric’s extradition has faced cold response from Washington.

Official figures show some 32,000 people have been arrested for their alleged role in the coup attempt. Nearly 100,000 people in the military, civil service, police and judiciary have been sacked or suspended.

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