Turkey's ruling party scours ranks for suspected Gulen supporters

The Islamist conservative party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking to root out suspected supporters of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen within its own ranks, state news agency Anadolu reported Friday.

According to an internal document from Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), the "elimination" of Gulen sympathizers from party membership should be "pain-staking and immediate" in order "to restore the atmosphere of peace and trust," Anadolu reported.

Erdogan accuses the US-based cleric of plotting the failed July 15 coup and has since launched a massive crackdown against suspected Gulen supporters.

An Istanbul court issued an arrest warrant for the exiled cleric on Thursday, according to Anadolu. A previous warrant was issued against Gulen last year for allegedly founding and leading an armed terrorist organization.

Turkish officials are demanding Gulen's extradition, but no official request has been filed to the United States, where he lives.

Gulen said the arrest warrant issued Thursday does not change his status and again denied any involvement in a failed coup in Turkey.

"The issuance of an arrest warrant from a Turkish court changes nothing about my status or my views," he said in a statement.

"I have repeatedly condemned the coup attempt in Turkey and denied any knowledge or involvement. It is well-documented the Turkish court system is without judicial independence, so this warrant is yet another example of President Erdogan’s drive for authoritarianism and away from democracy."

The Turkish government said more than 60,000 government workers have been suspended or fired in the wake of the coup. More than 25,000 people have been detained, over 13,000 of whom have been issued arrest warrants.

Last update: Fri, 05/08/2016 - 18:33

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