According to Mr. Soylu, the “secret imams” were part of a parallel leadership structure within the police force that was ultimately answerable to Mr. Gulen, whose extradition has long been sought by the Turkish authorities.
The subject of Mr. Gulen is almost certain to be discussed at a coming meeting in Washington between President Trump and Mr. Erdogan, whose government was allied to the cleric’s movement before the two fell out publicly in 2013.
The raids were a “most important step toward uncovering a group that leaked into the police force, trying to rule the police force from outside, trying to establish an almost alternative police organization, ignoring the rules of the state,” Mr. Soylu said, in remarks quoted by Anadolu, the state-owned news agency.
The crackdown has targeted not just those believed to be “Gulenists,” but also leftist and liberal dissidents, including journalists, soldiers, judges, lawyers, teachers and professors. Some people have been purged simply for placing their children in Gulen-owned schools or for putting their money in Gulen-owned banks.
The arrests on Wednesday followed the detention of 38 opposition activists who were questioned last week in connection with their involvement in protests about accusations of voter fraud in the recent referendum.