Friday 19 January 2018

Turkish authorities 'order arrest of scores of municipality and ministry staff'

Investigation targeting supporters of the U.S.-based cleric accused of being behind last July's failed coup

Paramilitary police officers and commandos escort the alleged main ringleaders of last summer's failed military coup before their trial at a courthouse in the outskirts of Ankara (AP)
Paramilitary police officers and commandos escort the alleged main ringleaders of last summer's failed military coup before their trial at a courthouse in the outskirts of Ankara (AP)
Police officers escort people suspected of links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, in Kayseri, Turkey (Olay Duzgun/DHA-Depo Photos via AP)

Daren Butler

Turkish authorities ordered the detention of 139 staff from Ankara municipalities and two ministries in an investigation targeting supporters of the U.S.-based cleric accused of being behind last July's failed coup, CNN Turk said on Wednesday.

Since the attempted putsch, authorities have jailed pending trial 50,000 people and sacked or suspended 150,000 from a wide range of professions including soldiers, police, teachers and public servants, over alleged links to what the government calls terrorist organisations.

Detention warrants on Wednesday were issued for 60 staff at the Ankara city council, 19 at district councils, 30 staff at the development ministry and 30 at the education ministry, broadcaster CNN Turk said.

The cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States for almost 20 years, has denied involvement in the putsch.

Ankara accuses Gulen, a former ally of President Tayyip Erdogan, of infiltrating Turkish institutions, including the judiciary, police and military in a decades-long campaign. Government critics say the post-coup crackdown has been used to crush dissent.

State-run Anadolu news agency said the municipality staff, some of whom had previously been dismissed from their jobs, were found to have used ByLock, an encrypted messaging app the government says was used by Gulen's followers.

Police officers escort people suspected of links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, in Kayseri, Turkey (Olay Duzgun/DHA-Depo Photos via AP)
Police officers escort people suspected of links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, in Kayseri, Turkey (Olay Duzgun/DHA-Depo Photos via AP)

Reuters

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