Prominent journalist detained as clampdown in Turkey spreads

Turkey's crackdown in the wake of this month's coup attempt showed no signs of stopping Tuesday, with a new wave of civil service suspensions stretching from the tourism ministry to a naval academy and highlighted by the detention of a prominent journalist.

Turkey's detention of Nazli Ilicak brings to eight the total number of journalists captured since a prosecutor put out a detention order for 42 media workers, the Dogan news agency reported. Already before the putsch, Turkey had 34 journalists behind bars.

The post-coup purge has seen tens of thousands suspended from the civil service and more than 13,000 detained since the July 15 coup and subsequent declaration of a state of emergency on Thursday.

CNN Turk reported about 9,000 people have been formally arrested.

Parliament voted unanimously to set up a commission to investigate the events of July 15.

Also Tuesday, the Religious Affairs Directorate announced a new wave of suspensions, with more than 1,100 people now removed from their jobs. There were 500 suspensions reported at the Agriculture Ministry. The Tourism Ministry also announced suspensions.

Two generals were nabbed in Dubai, apparently en route from Afghanistan, accused of being connected to the coup plot, the state run Anadolu news agency reported.

Furthermore, there was a new raid against a naval academy in Istanbul. Among those detained were 44 soldiers and dozens of officers, including three colonels. 

The former governor of Istanbul, Huseyin Avni Mutlu, was also taken in for questioning, among nine former senior officials detained in the latest moves. 

It is all part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's efforts to remove what he says is a "parallel state" that he says US-based cleric and former ally Fethullah Gulen was trying to build in Turkey in an effort to wrest power from Erdogan.

The case of Ilicak, a well-known government critic, fits the bill.

She had been dismissed from the pro-government newspaper Sabah in 2013 after calling for the resignation of several ministers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) amid corruption revelations and probes.

Since those cases fell apart, evidence and wiretaps released to the public - all designed to prove graft allegations among public officials - has been blamed by the government on circles linked to Gulen, who himself denies all involvement in a coup attempt.

The government insists the ongoing crackdown is targeting the preacher's followers. It has made use of the 90-day state of emergency and its wide-ranging powers, including the ability to rule by decree, to further its probe.

Among the new powers is the ability to detain someone for up to 30 days, while also restricting detainees rights, including client-attorney privileges. The government announced it is shutting down thousands of institutions, allegedly connected to Gulen. 

Opposition parties to the left of the government have been critical of the powers, fearing abuses, amid a report by Amnesty International alleging suspects in detention were being tortured.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced that the bridge spanning the Bosporus - where soldiers first appeared on the night of the coup attempt and took over, eventually killing civilians - will be renamed "The July 15 Martyrs' Bridge."

Yildirim also pledged in an interview late on Monday to forge ahead with plans to significantly overhaul the Turkish constitution - a plan which had already been in the works prior to the coup - with elements that would empower Erdogan's office. 

Gulen remains in the US, where he has been living in self-imposed exile since 1999. Turkey wants him extradited but the US is awaiting a full request to weigh the evidence.

Meanwhile, the US said the family of diplomatic staff members based in Turkey may depart the country if they so choose in light of the failed coup attempt and the imposition of the state of emergency.

The US also reissued its warning "of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey and to avoid travel to south-eastern Turkey."

Last update: Tue, 26/07/2016 - 18:53
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