ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish and Sudanese intelligence agencies have captured and returned to Turkey a man believed to be a financier for the U.S.-based cleric accused of orchestrating a failed coup in Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Monday.
Citing security sources, Anadolu said Turkey’s MIT and Sudan’s NISS intelligence agencies carried out a joint operation targeting Memduh Cikmaz in Sudan and returned him to Turkey early on Monday.
Cikmaz, labelled by Turkish media a “money safe” for the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, is believed to have transferred millions of dollars to Gulen’s network from Sudan since he fled there in January 2016, Anadolu said.
Sudanese officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Gulen is accused by Ankara of orchestrating the failed July 2016 coup against President Tayyip Erdogan. He has denied any involvement.
Since the abortive coup, more than 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial over alleged links to Gulen, while some 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from jobs in the military, public and private sectors.
Rights groups and some of Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concern about the crackdown, fearing the government is using the coup as a pretext to quash dissent.
The government says only such a purge could neutralise the threat represented by Gulen’s network, which it says deeply infiltrated institutions such as the army, schools and courts.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans/Mark Heinrich