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Turkey issues arrest warrant for Erdogan rival Gulen

Turkish prosecutors requested an arrest warrant for exiled Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen, who is accused of leading a 'criminal' group
Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen (L) has lived in exile in the United States since 1999 (AFP)

A Turkish court has issued an arrest warrant for the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has emerged as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's principle rival.

The court agreed on Friday to a request by prosecutors, who said that Gulen, who has lived in exile in the United States since 1999, led a "criminal" group acting against the "rules and laws in media, economy and bureaucracy", the state Anatolia news agency reported.

According to a copy of the request published in Turkish media, Gulen is being charged with setting up and directing an "armed terrorist organisation" as well as using intimidation to deprive a person of their freedom.

The court will now have to give its approval for the arrest warrant to be issued.

Erdogan accuses Gulen of running a "parallel state".

In December 2013, an anti-graft probe targeted a number of high-profile figures in Turkey, including the sons of three former government ministers and leading Turkish businessmen.

Since then, hundreds of police officers have been detained on charges ranging from eavesdropping on top officials to disclosing sensitive information and violating privacy.

The US has so far paid little attention to repeated requests from Turkey for Gulen's extradition.

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