This file photo shows Turkish security forces.
Turkish security forces have arrested a nephew of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who is blamed for masterminding last weekend’s failed military coup.
Muhammad Saitd Gulen was arrested in the northeastern city of Erzurum on Saturday and will be sent to the capital, Ankara, for questioning, local media reported.
It is the first time a relative of Gulen has been reported detained since the Friday coup attempt.
Also on Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the closure of thousands of private schools, charities and other institutions over suspected links to the Gulen movement.
Erdogan has accused Gulen, who has many followers in Turkey and abroad, of masterminding last Friday’s failed coup, in which at least 246 people were killed and more than 2,100 others sustained injuries. Gulen denies the charge and has condemned the coup.
Tens of thousands of soldiers, security officers, judges, prosecutors, civil servants and academics suspected of ties to the Gulen movement have been detained or suspended from their jobs following the failed coup.
US-based Turkish opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen ©Reuters
Erdogan has pledged to “cleanse” the country’s institutions of the “virus” of Gulen supporters, drawing concerns from Turkey’s Western allies over his increasingly authoritarian stance.
Meanwhile, Ankara has escalated pressure on Washington to extradite Gulen, sending several “dossiers” that it says are packed with evidence about his alleged role in the failed coup.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday that Ankara expects to complete within a week to 10 days the dossier requesting the extradition of Gulen.
Cavusoglu further said the link between soldiers involved in the July 15 abortive coup and Gulen's extensive network of followers was “very clear,” adding that Turkey would do all it could “politically and legally” to secure his extradition.
The US had earlier said it would extradite Gulen if Turkey provided evidence, not allegations, that he was behind the coup attempt. Lawyers say that the process could take many years.