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Turkey detains 56 over suspected links to Gulen movement 

Turkey’s police have detained 56 people over suspected links to the Gulen movement, which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government accuses of masterminding 2016’s attempted coup, the Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Tuesday.

The detentions came on Tuesday after the Turkish government ordered the detention of 79 people in 19 provinces across the country, including Ankara and Istanbul as part of an investigation into the Gulen movement.

Ankara designates the movement led by the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, a terrorist organization.

Gulen and members of his faith-based movement are also accused by the ruling AKP government of orchestrating the failed coup that took place on July 15, 2016.

According to a news report by the state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) on Tuesday, Turkey has also given orders for the detention of 133 military personnel over alleged connections to the Gulen group.

AA said that the suspects were being sought in an operation centered in the western coastal province of Izmir and that 82 of the 133 were serving members in the Turkish military.

Although the 78-year-old cleric and his followers deny any involvement in the failed coup, more than 77,000 people been jailed pending trial in the three-year purge that was launched in wake of the coup attempt.

About 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have also been dismissed or suspended from their professions over alleged links to the group

The widespread arrests are still carried out routinely as part of a massive post-coup crackdown led by the governing AKP, which has been criticized by Turkey’s Western allies as well as international rights groups.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who previously promised to eradicate Gulen’s network and has been accused by critics of using the coup as a pretext to quash dissent, has defended the measures as a necessary response to the scale of the security threat his country faces.

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