Fethullah Gulen Turkey links Islamic preacher to Armenian journalist's murder

Istanbul prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Gulen as well as a prominent former prosecutor and three journalists in its probe.

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A banner shows late Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in front of the offices of Armenian weekly newspaper "Agos" at a rally to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of his assassination, in Istanbul, on January 19, 2017 play

A banner shows late Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in front of the offices of Armenian weekly newspaper "Agos" at a rally to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of his assassination, in Istanbul, on January 19, 2017

(AFP/File)
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Turkish prosecutors on Tuesday formally linked the alleged mastermind of the failed July 15 coup attempt, Fethullah Gulen, to the 2007 killing of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink that shook the country.

Istanbul prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Gulen as well as a prominent former prosecutor and three journalists in its probe into the murder.

Gulen, an Islamic preacher residing in exile in the US state of Pennsylvania, is already the subject of multiple arrest warrants related to last year's failed coup which the government has accused him of leading. He denies the charges.

Numerous reports speculated over a possible link between Gulen and the Dink killing after the coup but this is the first time that prosecutors have made a formal connection.

According to the request by prosecutors, the murder of Dink went ahead because of Gulen's influence on the security forces at the time.

Along with Gulen, the warrant targets the former prosecutor Zekeriya Oz who was behind a graft probe of those in the inner circle of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Authorities blamed the probe on Gulen.

Also wanted are journalists Faruk Mercan, Ekrem Dumanli and Adem Yavuz Arslan who wrote for publications sympathetic to Gulen and are now believed to be out of the country.

Dink, a member of Turkey's Armenian minority, was murdered by a teenage gunman on January 19, 2007, near the offices of the Agos newspaper which he founded.

Relations between Turks and Armenians are scarred by the mass killings of the Ottoman Empire's Armenians in Anatolia during the peak of World War I, which Yerevan sees as a genocide, a term Turkey fiercely rejects.

Dink promoted reconciliation between Armenians and Turks, a prospect that remains far off due to the dispute over the 1915 killings and a series of other rows.

Although his assassin, just 17 at the time, was rapidly arrested and sentenced, the trial into the killing still grinds on with Dink's supporters losing confidence on its ability to shed light on the plot.

Turkey meanwhile is strongly pressing for the extradition of Gulen to face trial over his alleged involvement in the coup.

In the latest contact, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag spoke to his US counterpart Jeff Sessions on Tuesday and asked for Gulen's temporary detention, Turkish media said.

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