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Dec 19, 2014 11:28 AM

Report: Turkish prosecutor wants US-based cleric arrested

The Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) A Turkish prosecutor is seeking a warrant to arrest U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen a former ally-turned-foe of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's state-run media reported Friday.

A court in Istanbul will decide whether a warrant should be issued, the Anadolu Agency said. The move would be a prelude to a formal request for Gulen's extradition from the United States, where he is living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

Erdogan's government has accused Gulen's movement of orchestrating a plot to try to bring it down. It says Gulen's followers within the police and judiciary were behind corruption allegations that forced four ministers to resign and targeted members of Erdogan's family.

The U.S. and Turkey do have an extradition treaty and Erdogan has said previously that he wants Gulen extradited.

Earlier Friday, the court ordered the arrest of four people and released eight others who had been detained in raids on a newspaper and television station affiliated with Gulen's movement, state-run media said. Those released included Ekrem Dumanli, the editor-in-chief of one of the country's biggest newspapers, Zaman. The court banned Dumanli and the others from traveling abroad, pending possible charges.

The suspects were among more than two dozen people detained in raids this month that targeted Zaman and its sister television station, Samanyolu TV.

The investigation has been widely condemned as a blow against Turkey's free press, drawing criticism from the European Union and the U.S. Erdogan has rejected the criticism, saying the investigation is a national security issue.

"I reject the accusations that I am a member of a terror organization and return the accusations to those who have made them," Dumanli told supporters Friday outside the courthouse in Istanbul. "The media cannot be silenced, the media cannot be intimated. Zaman is not afraid."

Authorities say those detained in the raids were suspected of making false accusations and of fabricating evidence that led to a police crackdown on a rival Islamic group on charges of links to al-Qaida in 2010. The Gulen movement has denied the claims.


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