By Hai Do
23 March, 2018

Turkey detained more suspected followers of clergyman Fethullah Gulen on Friday, police and media reported.

Turkish officials accuse Gulen of directing a plot aimed at overthrowing the government in July 2016. The overthrow attempt failed. Gulen has denied the accusation. He lives in the American state of Pennsylvania.

Since the overthrow attempt, Turkish officials have arrested thousands of his suspected followers and dismissed thousands more from jobs.

FILE - U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pa., U.S. July 10, 2017.
FILE - U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pa., U.S. July 10, 2017.

Istanbul police told the Reuters news agency about the government's actions on Friday. They said the government approved arrest warrants for 55 employees of Isik Publications, a company that published Gulen's books.

Turkey's state-operated news agency Anadolu reported that warrants for 38 former police officials were also announced. It said the former officials were accused of being supporters of Gulen's organization.

In addition, police targeted 62 leaders of five labor unions, Anadolu said. The labor unions were part of an alliance of unions that the government ordered closed over suspected links to Gulan's group.

The United Nations (UN) says Turkey has arrested nearly 160,000 people and dismissed 152,000 government employees since the failed coup attempt. A new UN report says the numbers are through the end of December 2017.

The UN urged Turkey to end its state of emergency, which was declared after the coup and has been extended six times. The report accused the Turkish government of mass arrests and torturing detainees.

Turkey's foreign minister said the report was filled with unfounded claims. It compared the UN's criticism to propaganda from militant groups.

Western governments have accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of using the failed coup as the reason to silence dissidents. Turkey says the steps it has taken are necessary to fight threats to its national security.

I'm Dorothy Gundy.

Hai Do adpated this story from Reuters news reports. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

warrant - n. a document issued by a court giving the police the power to do something

coup - n. an attempt to take over the government usually by force