ISTANBUL (Hurriyet Daily)—A Turkish court has issued an arrest warrant for US-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, a former ally turned arch-enemy of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul described Gülen in a Dec. 18 request to the 1st Criminal Court of Peace as, “The leader of a criminal organization 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.
The request noted that Gülen has been abroad since 1998 and the prosecution was not able to contact him for the investigation, Anadolu Agency reported.
According to the request that the court accepted Dec. 19, 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.
Earlier, TRT Haber, the state-run television news station, had rescinded a story in which it claimed an Istanbul court issued an arrest warrant for Gülen.
In police raids on Dec. 14, Samanyolu Media Group head Hidayet Karaca was arrested, along with daily Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı. Dumanlı, however, was released by the court on Dec. 19. Both the Samanyolu channel and the Zaman newspaper are linked to Gülen.
Erdoğan has repeatedly accused Gülen, whose followers are thought to hold influential positions within the police and judiciary, of conducting the graft investigation in December 2013 as part of a “coup attempt” to overthrow the government.