A Turkish court has issued a warrant for the arrest of US-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ reports.
Gülen, once an ally and now arch-enemy of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has lived abroad in self-exile since 1998.
The Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul described Gülen in an 18th December request to the 1st Criminal Court of Peace as, “The leader of a criminal organisation publicly known as the ‘Hizmet Movement,’ which was structured in media, economy and bureaucracy in violation of laws and regulations.”
Prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz requested the arrest warrant by stressing that “enough concrete evidence showing that Gülen committed a crime was collected during the investigation” into the activity of his community.
According to the request which was accepted by the court on 19th December, Gülen is accused by the prosecution on three counts: 1) Forming and managing a terrorist organization, which carries a 10-15 years prison sentence. 2) Causing a victim to be unrightfully prosecuted due to slander, which carries 3-7 years of prison sentence. 3) Depriving a person from his/her freedom through force, threat and fraud, which carries a 2-7 years prison sentence.
In police raids on 14th December, Samanyolu Media Group head Hidayet Karaca was arrested, along with Turkish daily ‘Zaman’ Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı. Dumanlı, however, was released by the court on 19th December. Both the Samanyolu channel and ‘Zaman’ newspaper are linked to Gülen.
Erdoğan has repeatedly accused Gülen, whose followers are believed to hold influential positions within the police and judiciary, of conducting the corruption investigation in December 2013 as part of a “coup attempt” to overthrow the government.
It remains to be seen whether or not the US agrees to extradite Gülen; a move which is generally considered to be unlikely.