Turkey orders probe into Erdogan’s arch rival

The Gulen Movement is accused of plotting to overthrow the government

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Turkish police have ordered a sweeping investigation into Hizmet movement run by Prime Minister Erdogan’s staunch opponent Fethullah Gulen, over allegations of plotting to overthrow the government.

Gulen once supported Erdogan’s ruling AK party helping it to win three successive elections since 2002. But after he was accused of conspiring against the secular state, the powerful Muslim cleric went into self-imposed exile since 1999.

In the written order sent to the police departments in 30 provinces, the movement is accused of working to seize control of the state by forcibly abolishing the constitutional order, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.

The order, dated June 25, also asks police to enquire whether Hizmet is an armed group or played a role in a string of assassinations that have shocked Turkey in recent years, including the 2007 murder of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

The investigation marks a significant ramping up of the judicial pressure against Hizmet ahead of next month's presidential elections in which Erdogan will be contending to be head of state.

Erdogan has come under intense pressure since the corruption scandal erupted in December, throwing up the biggest challenge yet to his 11 years in power after he weathered mass anti-government protests last year.

Gulen owns a network of schools, culture centers and media and was a key backer of Erdogan before falling out with him over the government's plans to shut down his schools.

The prosecutors also asked the police to gather intelligence about members of associations affiliated with the movement, including students at schools owned by Gulen or academics doing research on Hizmet.

Erdogan declared his candidacy last week to become the country's first democratically elected president and is widely expected to win an outright victory in the first round of the polls due on August 10.

[With AFP]

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