April 28, 2018 / 8:51 AM / in 2 months

Turkey detains scores linked to suspected cleric's matchmaking service: Anadolu

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish authorities have detained 63 people suspected of links to a network accused of orchestrating a failed coup and were hunting for 40 others on Saturday, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

Officials said some of the suspects had worked as matchmakers - finding spouses for followers of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the Turkish government says was behind the failed 2016 putsch, Anadolu reported.

Others had appeared on lists of potential partners drawn up by the matchmakers, Anadolu added.

Gulen denies any involvement in the coup attempt and has not commented on the Turkish government’s assertion that his supporters run a matchmaking service.

The suspects were detained in Istanbul and 35 other areas across Turkey, Anadolu said, part of a security crackdown that has been condemned by the United Nations and Western powers.

The U.N. human rights office said last month Turkish authorities had detained 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number of civil servants since the failed putsch.

Among those detained, more than 50,000 have been formally charged and kept in jail during their trials.

Rights groups have accused President Tayyip Erdogan of using the coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent.

The government says the measures, taken under emergency rule that was imposed after the coup, are necessary for security reasons.

Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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