Tycoon detained as Turkey widens coup probe to business sector

Security forces in Kayseri, central Turkey, detained Mustafa Boydak, the chairman of the family-owned Boydak Holding, and two other top executives, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

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ANKARA // Turkish authorities widened their post-coup crackdown to the business sector on Friday, detaining three top tycoons as part of investigations into the activities of US-based imam Fethullah Gulen.

Security forces in Kayseri, central Turkey, detained Mustafa Boydak, the chairman of the family-owned Boydak Holding, and two other top company executives, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

He and the other two executives, Sukru and Halit Boydak, were detained at their homes.

Efforts were continuing to detain former chairman Haci Boydak. Warrants have also been issued for Ilyas and Bekir Boydak for whom warrants have also been issued. Police also arrested 21 journalists, leading them away in handcuffs. There are 47 more warrants out against journalists from more than 130 media outlets. The arrests of the Boydaks appear to be the first argeting the business world in a crackdown that has already sought to eradicate Mr Gulen’s influence from the military, legal system, education and civil service. Boydak Holding has interests in furniture, energy and finance, and notably owns the prominent Istikbal and Bellona furniture firms.

Family-owned holding companies form the backbone of the corporate economy in Turkey, owning many of its most famous brands.

Mustafa Boydak is also the head of the chamber of commerce in Kayseri, a fast growing city dubbed one of the “Anatolian Tigers” for the growth and prosperity it has enjoyed under Mr Erdogan’s rule.

The detentions were part of an investigation into the financing of Gulen’s activities in Turkey. Ankara blames the reclusive cleric for the failed July 15 attempt at unseating president Recep Tayyp Erdogan and his government.

The president went on the offensive against the US on Friday, accusing the Americans of harbouring the man he perceives as the mastermind behind the coup. Turkey has demanded the United States extradite Mr Gulen.

“Instead of thanking this nation that quashed the coup in the name of democracy, on the contrary, you are taking sides with the coup plotters. The putschist is already in your country,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an angry speech at a police special forces headquarters in Ankara. The facility was bombed and fired upon during the attempted coup, and 47 police officers were killed.

The president also lashed out at an American military official who expressed concern that the failed coup may have longer-term effects on the US-led fight against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

We’ve certainly had relationships with a lot of Turkish leaders, military leaders in particular. And so I’m concerned about what the effect is on those relationships as we continue to move forward,” said General Joseph Votel at a security forum. His remarks prompted a furious response from Mr Erdogan. “It’s not up to you to make that decision. Who are you? Know your place,” he said. He then hinted that the United States could be behind the failed plot.

“My people know who is behind this scheme ... they know who the superior intelligence behind it is, and with these statements you are revealing yourselves, you are giving yourselves away,” he said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also criticised the general saying the jailed military personnel are “not the only ones with the capacity to fight” ISIL. . On the contrary, the purge was making the Turkish army more efficient.

“When we weed out these bad apples ... then our army is more trustworthy, more dynamic, cleaner and more effective,” Cavusoglu said.

The foreign minister also criticised the response of Turkey’s European and Western allies to the crackdown, which now covers the civil service, the military, the judiciary, academia and hundreds of schools and colleges.

“We are disturbed by our European and Western friends’ approach,” said Mr Cavusoglu. “Very few have given us a clear support against the coup. They started to give us lessons in democracy, to talk down to us, to warn us.”

The European Union and other countries, as well as human rights groups, have voiced increasing concern about the crackdown. More than 18,000 people have been detained and more than 49,000 have had their passports revoked as a “precaution.”

* Agence France Presse