Turkey detains over 100 in new raids on Erdogan foes

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Turkish police on Monday, April 18, detained at least 105 people, including top construction executives, in a new crackdown on supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's arch foe, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

Those detained are accused of providing financing for Gulen, who the Turkish government accuses of running a "terror organization" seeking to overthrow his former ally Erdogan.

Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for 140 people and 105 people have been detained so far, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Most of those detained were apprehended in Istanbul, it said, adding that the operation involved some 800 police.

They have been accused of providing some 50 million Turkish lira ($17.5 million) in financing to Gulen's group between 2004-2015.

Over 40 of those detained were employees of Bank Asya, a bank linked to Gulen that was put under state control last year. Another 45 were described as businesspeople.

They stand accused of "being a member of a terror organization" and "financing a terror organization".

Top construction firm implicated

Among the businessmen detained are executives from leading Turkish construction firm Dumankaya Insaat, including chairman Halit Dumankaya and board member Semih Serhat Dumankaya, Anatolia said.

Founded in 1963, Dumankaya is one of Turkey's biggest property developers with a string of prestigious projects in Istanbul.

The company is also the shirt sponsors of top Istanbul football team Galatasaray, meaning its stars like Germany's Lukas Podolski or Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands wear the firm's name on their kit.

"Our board members were called to give a statement at the Financial Crimes Department on Monday morning," the company confirmed in a statement.

It said that in over half a century of existence, Dumankaya "has rigorously fulfilled all its legal and financial obligations."

"We have worked and continue to work for the development of our country and our people," it added.

Those detained have been brought to the Istanbul police's financial crimes department for questioning. Authorities will then decide whether to send them to court.

Ankara accuses Gulen of running what it calls the Fethullahaci Terror Organisation/Parallel State Structure (FeTO/PDY) and seeking to overthrow the legitimate Turkish authorities.

But his supporters decry the accusations as ridiculous, saying all he leads is a more informal group known as Hizmet (Service).

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

He and Erdogan used to be allies but fell out and the president blames Gulen for a 2013 corruption scandal that broke while he was prime minister and posed one of the biggest threats of his rule.

Turkish authorities have since the summer of 2014 rounded up allies of Gulen in numerous police operations but this was one of the biggest to date.

In a move that sparked anger abroad, Turkey last month forcibly seized a media group closely linked to Gulen that owned the Zaman and Today's Zaman dailies.

Turkey has repeatedly asked the United States to extradite Gulen but Washington has shown little appetite for doing so. – Stuart Williams, AFP/Rappler.com