More than 46 people were arrested in Turkey Tuesday, including high-ranking police officials, as part of an anti-terror operation against the ruling party's ally-turned-foe Gulen movement, which is made up of followers of U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Among the 46 people detained across 18 different provinces in Turkey are several former police chiefs from the Western province of Izmir and off-duty governors and deputy governors.
The raids come a few days after the Justice and Development (AK) party, founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2001, won the Nov. 1 snap elections and, as a result, regained the single-party majority after losing it in June 7 elections.
According to the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency, the police raids and the arrest warrants were based on charges of “keeping militarily confidential information and documents” and “committing out-of-duty actions.”
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The recent raids come less than a week after the Istanbul police used force on Oct. 28 to enter the headquarters and seize control of media outlets owned by a company with ties to Gulen.
Two TV channels were shut down, including Bugun TV, which had aired several interviews with opposition figures in the days before the snap elections, including with Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chair of the pro-Kurdish People Democratic Party (HDP).
Members of the Gulen movement, and Gulen himself, are accused by the President Erdogan and the ruling AK party of using sectors of the police to establish a parallel state in a bid to overthrow the government. The government points to a corruption scandal against it in 2013, discovered after anti-terror police raided the homes of several ministers and businessmen with close to ties to Erdogan and the government.
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Since then, the government has launched a major purge in police and other government departments where Gulen movement members are believed to hold high ranking positions. The government has also been cracking down on media outlets and newspapers with ties to the movement.
In the past, the Gulen movement was one of the main backers of the AKP and Erdogan. But, in early 2013, a rift started appearing between the two group after the government initiated secret negotiations with the Kurdish resistance group PKK without including the Gulenists in the intelligence and police.