Turkish agents capture nephew of U.S.-based cleric in overseas operation

Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen in Saylorsburg, Pa.
Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen speaks to members of the media at his compound in Saylorsburg, Pa., in 2016.
(Chris Post / Associated Press)

Turkish agents have captured a nephew of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen in an overseas operation and have brought him to Turkey to face prosecution, Turkey’s state-run news agency said Monday.

Selahaddin Gulen, who was wanted in Turkey on charges of membership in a terror organization, was seized in an operation by Turkey’s national spy agency, MIT, the Anadolu Agency reported.

The report did not say where Gulen was seized or when he was returned to Turkey. However, he was believed to be residing in Kenya.


His case is the latest in a series of forced repatriation of people affiliated with his uncle’s movement, which the Turkish government blames for a failed coup attempt in 2016.

Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who now lives in exile in Pennsylvania, has rejected accusations of involvement in the coup attempt.

Turkey has designated his network a terrorist group, which it has named the Fethullahist Terror Organization, or FETO.

For much of the last month, in squares across Turkey, hundreds of thousands gathered for a “democracy watch” — part celebration of the failure of a bloody coup attempt that killed hundreds, and part an expression of determination to find and punish those responsible.

Aug. 17, 2016

Erdogan announced earlier this month that a prominent member of Gulen’s network had been captured but did not provide details.

On July 15, 2016, factions within the Turkish military used tanks, warplanes and helicopters in an attempt to overthrow Erdogan. Fighter jets bombed parliament and other spots in Ankara, the Turkish capital. Heeding a call by the president, thousands took to the streets to stop the coup.

A total of 251 people were killed, and about 2,200 others were wounded. Around 35 alleged coup plotters were also killed.