An Istanbul court has issued an arrest warrant for Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric and vocal critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused of trying to orchestrate an anti-government plot, state media reported.
Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan who leads a broad-based Muslim group known as Hizmet (Service) and has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999, is accused of "leading a terrorist organization," according to Turkey’s state-run TRT television, which broadcast the report on Friday.
Al Jazeera has learned that Turkish prosecutors asked Interpol to issue a "red notice" to pave the way for the arrest and extradition of Gulen to Turkey. The U.S. and Turkey do have an extradition treaty, but it was not clear if the evidence presented against Gulen would meet U.S. criteria for his extradition.
Erdogan's government has accused Gulen's movement of orchestrating a plot to try to bring it down. It says Gulen's followers in the police and judiciary are behind corruption allegations that forced four ministers to resign and targeted Erdogan's family.
Separately, the Istanbul court on Friday ordered the release of Ekrem Dumanli, the editor-in-chief of one of the country's biggest newspapers, Zaman, but it banned Dumanli from traveling, pending possible charges. Dumanli was among more than two dozen people detained in raids this month that targeted Zaman and its sister television station, Samanyolu TV, both of which have been linked to Gulen.
Four other people detained in the raids were formally arrested, the Associated Press reported. The men in custody are the head of Samanyolu TV, the former head of the anti-terror division of the Istanbul police and two other police officials.
The raids have been widely condemned as a blow to freedom of the press. Erdogan has rejected the criticism, saying the investigation is a national security issue.
Turkish authorities say those detained in the raids were suspected of making false accusations and of fabricating evidence that led to a police crackdown on a rival group on charges of links to al-Qaida in 2010. The Gulen movement has denied the claims.
Al Jazeera and wire services