Azerbaijan probes Gülen supporters
BAKU - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS photoAzerbaijan said on Aug. 15 it has launched a criminal investigation into the supporters of US-based preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara blames for orchestrating the last month's abortive coup attempt.
"In order to prevent illegal actions on the territory of Azerbaijan by the supporters of the terrorist organisation of Fethullah Gülen, the prosecutor general has launched a criminal case," spokesman Eldar Sultanov told AFP.
He said investigators have begun "actions" on the case, without elaborating. It is unclear how many people might be prosecuted in the case.
Gülen is accused of ordering the July 15 coup attempt during which a group within the military tried to remove President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from power, a claim he strongly denies.
Azerbaijan last month shut down a private television channel over plans to broadcast an interview with Gülen, "in order to avoid provocations aimed at damaging the strategic partnership between Turkey and Azerbaijan."
Gülen's Hizmet movement has affiliated schools around the world, including in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan, normally funded by wealthy Turkish businessmen.
They insist it is an informal grouping promoting moderate Islam and development, but their critics see them as a shadowy organisation with an unaccountable influence in Turkey.