ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Police detained more than 50 academics linked to Turkey’s prestigious Istanbul University on Friday in an investigation targeting followers of the U.S.-based cleric blamed for July’s attempted coup, the state-run Anadolu agency said.
Some 36,000 people have been jailed pending trial and more than 100,000 sacked or suspended in the civil service, army, judiciary and other institutions under probes linked to the July 15 putsch, in which more than 240 people were killed.
Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concern at the breadth of the purges under President Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly rejected such criticism, saying Ankara is determined to root out its enemies at home and abroad.
Anadolu said police carried out simultaneous raids on 100 addresses across a dozen provinces in an operation targeting the academic structure of what Ankara terms the ‘Gulenist Terror Organisation’.
Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, denies involvement in the July 15 putsch.
The agency said prosecutors had issued arrest warrants for a total of 87 academics, including Abdurrahim Karsli, leader of the minor Centre Party, which garnered around 21,000 votes in the June 2015 parliamentary elections.
Karsli, also a law professor, was not immediately detained as he recently underwent an operation and was under supervision of a doctor at home, Anadolu said.
Istanbul University, which traces its origins back to 1453 when the city - ancient capital of the Byzantine Empire - was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, regularly ranks among the top universities in Turkey in surveys.
It became the latest in a series of universities where alleged adherents of the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, have been put under investigation.
Last month, police detained dozens of academics from the city’s Yildiz University in the same crackdown.
Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Ralph Boulton