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TRNC Head of Religious Affairs released – Updated

11 July 2017

North Cyprus News - Talip Atalay

Turkish Cypriot Mufti, Dr Talip Atalay who was arrested in Diyarbakir, Turkey four days ago in connection with investigations into the Fethullah Gulen movement, was reportedly released on Tuesday.

His deputy, Fahrettin Ogdu, who had said on Monday that Atalay was called to the Mersin police headquarters for unknown reasons, announced on Tuesday that the mufti was released under certain conditions.

Dr Atalay had gone to Turkey to visit his father in hospital in Mersin and then went to Diyarbakir where he was arrested in connection with investigations into the Fethullah Gulen movement.

Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Kibris’ reports that Ogdu said that Atalay was arrested following a number of accusations against him made by the foreign affairs ministry in the north and for meetings he had held with other religious leaders of the island as part of the interreligious dialogue that runs in parallel with the peace talks at political level.

Atalay’s deputy said he doesn’t believe that the Mufti is involved in any activities concerning the overthrow of Erdogan. On the contrary, he said, on the night of the coup attempt on July 15 last year, Atalay had called on religious organisations in the north to gather in front of the Turkish Embassy in Nicosia in the north to show their opposition to the act.

Following the failed coup attempt last July against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, thousands of people have been arrested on the suspicion that they are linked with the Fethullah Gulen movement.

The Turkish government has accused Gulen, a Turkish cleric, who is in self-exile in the US, of masterminding last year’s attempted coup in Turkey.

Update: According to Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Afrika’, Atalay was granted TRNC citizenship when he was 12 years old.

Atalay was accused because of a letter of reference he had given to a person, who was arrested in the TRNC a few days ago, on suspicion of having links with FETO. Atalay stated that he had given the letter before FETO was transformed into “a terrorist organisation“.

Commenting on the issue, Afrika notes that Atalay’s arrest had caused a stir in the government; however, the government had made no comment on the arrest.

Cyprus Mail, Afrika

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