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Arrest warrant issued against 51, including heads of Turkey’s prominent business groups

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İstanbul Police Financial Crimes Unit on Saturday morning staged synchronized raids on 28 addresses in the provinces of İstanbul, Kayseri, Konya and Muğla, detaining 28 so far, including chairmen of leading business groups, based on arrest warrants reportedly issued against a total of 51 people, as part of “parallel state” operations initiated by the government.

Among those targeted by arrest warrants are Rızanur Meral, the chairman of Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), İbrahim Halil Avcı, the chairman of Marmara Federation of Business Life Associations (MARİFED), Çetin Ekincioğlu, the head of Florya Association of Businessmen (FİADER).

Founded in 2005, TUSKON comprises seven federations and 211 associations of business people, with memberships of thousands. It also has offices in five foreign countries.

The detainees are accused of “being a member of a terrorist organization,” “violation of the law on collecting donations,” “violating the ban on financing terrorism,” “threat” and “injuring with gun.”

Those detained went through medical examination at the Bayrampaşa State Hospital, before they were taken to the headquarters of İstanbul Police Department on the Vatan Street for testimony.

The detentions were carried out mainly on suspicion of being a member of the so-called the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY),” which is used by the government-backed judiciary to frame sympathizers of the Gülen movement.

Since a corruption investigation came to public attention on Dec. 17, 2013, there have been many similar police operations carried out targeting shopkeepers, teachers, members of the judiciary, journalists and police officers who are accused of being affiliated with the Gülen movement, which is also known as the Hizmet movement. The graft probe implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, members of his family and senior Justice and Development Party (AK Party) figures.

Erdoğan accused the Gülen movement of plotting to overthrow his government and said that sympathizers of the movement within the police department had fabricated the graft scandal. Since then, hundreds of police officers have been detained and some arrested for alleged illegal activity in the course of the corruption investigation. Erdoğan said he would carry out a “witch hunt” against anyone with links to the movement. The Gülen movement strongly rejects the allegations brought against it.

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