ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish authorities have arrested a mayor from Turkey’s main opposition party over his alleged links to a U.S.-based Muslim cleric, the state-run news agency reported Tuesday. Separately, c lose to 200 people were detained in other police operations.
Anadolu Agency said Burak Oguz, the mayor of the Aegean coastal town of Urla, was arrested late Monday for alleged ties to Fethullah Gulen’s network. Gulen is blamed by Ankara for a failed coup attempt in 2016.
Oguz, who was elected in local elections in March, is the first mayor from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, to be arrested on terror charges. At least 14 elected mayors belonging to Turkey’s pro-Kurdish party have previously been detained for alleged ties to outlawed Kurdish rebels. The party denies terror charges and says the arrests are politically motivated aimed at weakening its hold in Turkey’s southeast.
The CHP condemned Oguz’s arrest and denied the accusation of links to Gulen, saying the network had no “chance of surving within the CHP.”
“We condemn the use of the justice (system) to remove those who were elected,” said CHP provincial head, Deniz Yucel.
Separately, authorities detained 171 people on suspicion of links to Gulen’s network in simultaneous raids in the capital, Ankara, Anadolu reported. Those detained are suspected of using a messaging app that Turkey says was used by coup plotters to communicate with each other. Meanwhile, prosecutors issued detention warrants for 18 Health Ministry personnel, including 10 doctors, the agency reported. At least 10 of the suspects were detained Tuesday.
On July 15, 2016, a group of officers attempted a coup to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Some 250 people were killed and more than 2,000 were injured during the failed attempt.
Some 77,000 people have been arrested and around 130,000 others, including military personnel, have been dismissed from state jobs in an ongoing government crackdown on Gulen’s network since the coup.
Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, denies involvement in the coup attempt.