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Turkish Media Report 35 Arrests in Raids Linked to Erdogan Critic

  • VOA News

FILE - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

FILE - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Authorities in Turkey detained 35 people Tuesday in an operation targeting supporters of a cleric accused of trying to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, local media said.

The raids in the western coastal city of Izmir came two days after voters in Turkey decided to give back majority control of the country's parliament to Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The Dogan news agency said police went to multiple sites in Izmir to detain senior bureaucrats and police officers as part of a probe against those backing U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Links to Gulen

Last week, authorities seized one of Turkey's largest media organizations, which is also accused of having links to Gulen.

Another series of raids in May resulted in the arrest of dozens of businessmen and other believed to be associated with the cleric.

Erdogan said Monday the world should respect his party's victory, in an apparent reference to the Western media's often critical coverage of his government's policies stifling critics.

"The whole world must show respect," Erdogan said after attending prayers at a mosque and visiting his parents' graves. "So far I haven't seen such a maturity from the world."

A supporter of the Justice and Development Party, (AKP), holds a portrait of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as people celebrate outside the AKP headquarters, in Istanbul, Turkey, late Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015.

A supporter of the Justice and Development Party, (AKP), holds a portrait of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as people celebrate outside the AKP headquarters, in Istanbul, Turkey, late Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015.

Sunday's elections were free and peaceful, but international election observers denounced media restrictions in the run-up to the voting, the government's media company seizure and criminal investigations of journalists for allegedly supporting terrorism or defaming Erdogan.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday that the Obama administration has both publicly and privately raised concerns about "freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in Turkey."

'Deeply concerned'

Earnest said the White House was "deeply concerned that media outlets and individual journalists critical of the government were subject to pressure and intimidation during the campaign."

Andreas Gross, who headed a delegation of parliamentarians from the Council of Europe, told reporters Monday, "Unfortunately, we came to the conclusion that this campaign was unfair and was characterized by too much violence and by too much fear."

The election Sunday returns Turkey to single-party rule just five months after Erdogan's AK Party lost its majority in parliament for the first time in more than a decade. The party won just under 50 percent of the vote to hold 316 seats in the 550-member body.

The main opposition CHP party won just over 25 percent, leaving AKP with a far wider margin of victory than predicted.

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