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Executives from top Turkish conglomerate held in post-coup probe

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Police detained the top legal advisor and a former chief executive of Dogan Holding, one of Turkey’s biggest conglomerates, on Thursday in an investigation into the network of the U.S.-based cleric blamed for a failed coup.

Authorities have detained, dismissed or suspended some 120,000 people including soldiers, police officers, teachers, judges and journalists since the July coup attempt, although thousands have since been restored to their posts.

Companies with ties to the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom President Tayyip Erdogan and the government accuse of orchestrating the coup attempt, have also been targeted in the crackdown. Hundreds of companies, for the most part smaller provincial firms, have been seized.

Dogan - which has interests in media, finance, energy and tourism and owns newspaper Hurriyet and broadcaster CNN Turk - said the raids were on the personal offices and homes of the two individuals and that its operations were unaffected.

Last month, another Dogan Holding executive, Barbaros Muratoglu, was remanded in custody on an accusation of “aiding a terror group” as part of an investigation into Gulen. Ankara refers to the cleric’s network of followers as the “Gulenist Terror Organisation”.

In its statement to the Istanbul stock exchange, Dogan said Thursday’s detentions were part of the same investigation.

“The search has been carried out solely in the personal offices of the mentioned executives and there is no situation that has an impact on the operations of our company or its subsidiaries,” the statement said.


Dogan’s founder, Aydin Dogan, developed a glass commercial and residential complex called Trump Towers Istanbul which soars over a commercial district in the city. Dogan pays U.S. President-elect Donald Trump for the brand name.

Turkey wants Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, extradited and has been infuriated by what it sees as Washington’s reluctance to hand him over.

It is hoping that a Trump administration will be more willing to do so. U.S. officials have said the issue is a judicial matter, not a political one.

Dogan shares initially fell as much as 9.9 percent after the market opened, and were down almost 5 percent by 1145 GMT in high-volume trading. Hurriyet shares fell as much as 7.6 percent.

Aydin Dogan is a prominent figure in Turkey’s secular establishment and has had strained ties with Erdogan and the ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party in the past. His group has faced multibillion-dollar tax fines.

More than 240 people were killed in the failed coup in July and the government says the extent of the subsequent crackdown, including on business suspected of links to Gulen, is justified by the gravity of the threat to the state.

More than 41,000 people have been jailed pending trial.

Dogan Holding itself has not been formally accused of any wrongdoing and has disavowed links to Gulen.

($1 = 3.5590 liras)

Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Nick Tattersall; editing by Ralph Boulton