ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkish police on Sunday detained a brother of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen (pictured) who is accused of masterminding the failed July coup aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state media said.
Kutbettin Gulen was detained by police acting on a tip-off at the home of a relative in the Gaziemir district of the western Izmir province, Anadolu news agency said.
He is the first of Gulen’s siblings to be detained after the coup bid.
He is accused of “membership of an armed terror group”, Anadolu said, without giving further details.
Kutbettin Gulen is currently being questioned by anti-terror police.
Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, is accused by Turkey of orchestrating the July 15 coup plot.
Gulen denies the claims and his supporters ridicule the description of his group by the Turkish authorities as the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO), saying he merely runs a peaceful organisation called Hizmet (Service).
Some 32,000 people have been arrested since the attempted putsch over alleged links to Gulen by the authorities, in a relentless crackdown that has caused international concern.
According to previous Turkish media reports, Gulen has five brothers: Seyfullah and Hasbi, who are dead, and Mesih, Salih and Kutbettin. He also has two sisters, Nurhayat and Fazilet. Their current whereabouts are not known.
In July, the authorities arrested Gulen’s nephew Muhammet Sait Gulen in the eastern city of Erzurum, long seen as one of the hubs for his supporters.
Another nephew, Ahmet Ramiz Gulen, was arrested in August in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.
But this is believed to be the first time a brother has been detained.
Turkey has asked the US authorities to extradite Gulen to face justice back home and expressed impatience with the slowness of the procedure. But Washington has insisted the full judicial process should be observed.