Turkey: hundreds more detained over suspected links to Gulen

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Police have launched simultaneous operations across the country on Wednesday, detaining hundreds of people with suspected links to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 1,009 people have been detained so far in the operation launched in all of Turkey’s 81 provinces, describing it as an “important step” toward the government’s aim at “bringing down” the Gulen movement.

The suspects are allegedly Gulen operatives who directed 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.”

Some 8,500 police officers participated in the operation, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

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.

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