Conglomerate was raid by Turkish police with close links to cleric Gulen
Turkish police raided the offices of a conglomerate with close links to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, an ally-turned-foe of President Tayyip Erdogan, company officials said on Tuesday.
Erdogan, who wants to win back a majority for his ruling AK Party in a snap election on Nov. 1, says Gulen has established a parallel structure within the state through supporters in the judiciary, police and other institutions including the media.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said 23 companies within the mining-to-media Koza Ipek group were being searched on suspicion of providing financial support for the “Gulenist Terrorist Group”.
No one from the police was immediately available to comment.
Erkan Akkus, news editor at Kanalturk and Bugun TV which are part of Koza Ipek’s media business, said the holding company’s headquarters and its television stations in Ankara, as well as the chairman’s home, were being searched.
“The aim here is to silence the opposition media ahead of an election,” Akkus told Reuters.
“It is wrong to see this as aimed just at our group. They are starting with us to test the waters and if it doesn’t spark an outcry, it could then spread to other media groups.”
Shares in Koza Ipek companies, including energy firm Ipek Dogal Enerji and miner Koza Madencilik, fell 10 percent. Shares in other media firms not affiliated with Gulen also declined.
Late last year, police detained dozens of people in raids on media outlets with ties to Gulen.
The cleric, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies any ambition to overthrow Erdogan.
The battle between Erdogan and Gulen became public in December 2013 when a corruption investigation targeting Erdogan’s inner circle came to light.
Erdogan blamed the cleric’s supporters and purged thousands of police and members of the judiciary he deemed loyal to Gulen.
In his early years in power, Erdogan drew on Gulen’s influence in the judiciary to help tame an army that had toppled four governments since 1960, including Turkey’s first Islamist-led cabinet, through a series of coup plot trials.