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Over 1,000 Detained in Turkey for Suspected Links to US-Based Cleric

The suspects are allegedly the operatives called "secret imams" who have been accused of directing followers within the police force

Turkish police launched simultaneous operations across the country on Wednesday, detaining more than 1,000 people with suspected links to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Warrants were issued for the detention of some 2,200 other suspects, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

At least 1,013 have been detained so far in one of the largest operations against the Gulen movement in recent months, according to Anadolu.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the operation comprised all of Turkey's 81 provinces, describing it as an important step toward the government's aim of "bringing down" the Gulen movement.

The suspects are allegedly Gulen operatives called "secret imams" who are accused of directing followers within the police force.

Soylu said the individuals allegedly "infiltrated the police, tried to lead it from the outside by forming an alternative (police) structure, (by) ignoring the state."

The detentions are part of a widespread crackdown following last summer's failed coup attempt, which Turkey says was orchestrated by Gulen's movement.

More than 47,000 people have been arrested since the coup, Soylu has said, including some 10,700 police officers and 7,400 military personnel.

Some 8,500 police officers participated in Wednesday's operation, Anadolu reported.

Gulen has denied orchestrating the coup. Turkey is pressing the United States to extradite him.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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