Turkey suspends 13 000 police over 'Gulen links'

2016-10-04 22:19
Fethullah Gulen. (AP)

Fethullah Gulen. (AP)

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Turkey has suspended almost 13 000 police officers - more than 5% of the country's entire police force - over suspected links to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric blamed by Ankara for orchestrating a failed coup attempt.

In a brief statement, the Turkish police headquarters said that 2 523 of the 12 801 suspended were police chiefs.

Ankara - The officers suspended "have been assessed to have communications or links to the Gulenist Terror Organisation, identified as a threat to national security", the police statement said.

The government blames the July 15 failed coup bid on Gulen, though he denies the charges.

According to the state-run Anadolu Agency, 37 people working in the interior ministry's headquarters had also been removed from their posts. It was not clear if both measures were linked.

The suspensions came hours after the government announced a three-month extension of a state of emergency, imposed for three months in the wake of the coup attempt, which gives President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping powers.

Turkish opposition parties have increasingly expressed concern, calling for the measures to end and demanding a return to parliamentary governance.

Erdogan, who has suggested that the state of emergency could be in place for up to a year, says the legislative branch is ill-prepared to handle the country's current situation.

The government has used the emergency laws to issue decrees to close down institutions, including dozens of media outlets.

About 100 000 people in the military, civil service, police, judiciary and universities have been sacked or suspended from their jobs, and 32 000 have been arrested since the failed coup bid.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday the judicial process needed to be speeded up, especially when it came to suspected coup plotters.

"One of the main goals is the shortening of sentencing times," he said at an economic conference. "We are starting this with the July 15 coup plotters. We are doing this quickly."

Turkey wants the United States to extradite Gulen and prosecute him on charges that he masterminded the attempt to overthrow the government. Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan's, has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

On Sunday, Turkish counter-terrorism police detained Gulen's brother in Izmir, where he was staying at a relative's house. Several of Gulen's relatives, including a nephew, niece and cousins, have been arrested since July 15.

Read more on:    turkey

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