Turkey detains 150 soldiers over alleged Gulen links: Anadolu agency

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish police detained 150 soldiers over alleged links to the U.S.-based preacher who Ankara says orchestrated an attempted coup in 2016, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Friday.

It said those detained were among 300 military personnel, including 211 serving officers, facing arrest in an investigation by Istanbul prosecutors.

Authorities have carried out such sweeps against alleged supporters of the cleric Fethullah Gulen on a regular basis since the failed coup of July 2016, in which 250 people were killed. Gulen denies involvement.

In similar investigations on Thursday, police detained more than 80 serving air force staff, according to state media.

Turkey has detained 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number of civil servants since the putsch attempt, the U.N. human rights office said in March. Of that number, more than 50,000 have been formally charged and kept in jail during their trials.

Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the crackdown.

Critics of President Tayyip Erdogan accuse him of using the failed putsch as a pretext to quash dissent. Turkey says the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.

Reporting by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Macfie and John Stonestreet



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