FILE USA TURKEY FETHULLAH GULEN COUP.jpg
A handout file picture made available on 27 December 2013 by fgulen.com shows Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic opinion leader and founder of the Gulen movement. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan allegedly accused Gulen to be behind the attempted coup while making an address to his supporters upon his arrival at Istanbul Ataturk airport in the early hours of 16 July 2016.
Photograph: EPA/FGULEN.COM / HANDOUT

Turkey sent the United States four dossiers on the Islamic cleric it believes was behind the weekend's failed coup attempt, according to news reports Tuesday, as the government seeks his arrest amid widespread dismissals in state institutions.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said Turkey had sent the files on Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric living in self-imposed exile in the US, according to CNN Turk.

Turkey's post-coup purge continued on Tuesday, raising to nearly 29,000 the number of government employees who have been suspended in recent days, including more than 6,300 soldiers.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has promised Washington ample evidence linking Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania in self-imposed exile, to the coup attempt, but asked why the US is demanding so much proof.

"Why do you insist on evidence when it is so clear and obvious anyway, while you did not ask for evidence for Bin Laden?" the premier said.

The US confirmed reciept of the Turkish documents Tuesday though declined to say they constituted a formal extradition request.

"I cannot confirm a formal request has been made, but Turkish officials have sent over electronic documents that the US is currently reviewing," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

"The US doesn't support individuals who conspired to overthrow democratically elected governments," Earnest said, adding: "There also is due process to which people who live in the United States are entitled to."

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by phone and condemned the coup attempt while lauding the Turkish people's "resolve against this violent intervention."

Obama however urged that the "investigations and prosecution of the coup's perpetrators be conducted in ways that reinforce public confidence in democratic institutions and the rule of law," the White House said.

He also said the US would provide "appropriate assistance" to Turkish authorities investigating the coup attempt.

The latest purges include 15,200 people at the ministry of education, 257 employees of the prime minister's office and 492 people at the Presidency of Religious Affairs, Turkey's highest governmental religious body, state news agency Anadolu reported.

Among the dismissals were nearly 3,000 members of the judiciary, with nearly 1,500 judges and prosecutors arrested.

Among the soldiers arrested were 115 generals. Anadolu reported 650 civilian detainments and 990 civilian arrests. Also, 210 police officers have been suspended.

The Council of Higher Education was also demanding the resignation of 1,577 deans.

Turkey's broadcasting authority has revoked the licences of 24 radio and television stations, accusing them of ties to the Gulenist movement. This follows the blocking of about 20 online news portals in recent days.

Anadolu updated the death toll, saying 173 civilians were killed in the revolt along with 67 members of the security forces. Nearly 1,491 people - loyalists and civilians - were reported injured.

The Foreign Ministry said on Sunday more than 100 mutineers had died in the failed putsch.

The office of the chief of staff of the Turkish armed forces vowed to punish "treacherous terrorists" who perpetrated the failed coup attempt at the weekend.

"Those scoundrels who caused this humiliation and disgrace to the republic of Turkey ... will be punished most severely," a statement read.

Erkan Kivrak, described as Erdogan's main military aide, has also been taken into custody, Anadolu reported. He is the second high-level aide to the president to be detained.

The coup attempt has opened up a debate in Turkey on reinstating the death penalty as a form of punishment for plotters.

Turkey's main right-wing party on Tuesday threw its support behind bringing back capital punishment.

The leader of the National Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahceli, said that if Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) were ready to put forth a constitutional measure, then MHP would back it.

Together, both parties would have enough votes to call a referendum on the death penalty, which Turkey abolished in 2004. The referendum would need only a simple voter majority to pass.

But UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned that Turkey has signed on to an international agreement aiming to abolish the death penalty, and that international law does not permit withdrawing from such pacts.

"I urge the Turkish government to refrain from turning back the clock on human rights protections,” said Zeid.

Reinstituting capital punishment would be diplomatically troubling to many of Turkey's Western allies. The EU, which Turkey has sought to join since 1999, does not allow the death penalty.

Erdogan said on Monday in his first interview since the putsch attempt that he and legislators would discuss reviving the death penalty, saying that he would "approve any decision [on the issue] to come out of the parliament."

Latest news

Trump administration opens door for mass deportations

The US Department of Homeland Security laid the groundwork Tuesday for mass deportations of immigrants living illegally in the United States under an executive order by President Donald Trump last month.

Brexit bill: House of Lords says public can change mind on leaving EU

The British public should be able to change their minds on Brexit - just as Prime Minister Theresa May did, the upper chamber of parliament heard Tuesday during a marathon debate on legislation to kick off EU negotiations.

Italian lawmakers, rights activists clash over gay sex club scandal

Gay rights activists and conservative politicians clashed Tuesday after the chief of Italy's anti-discrimination office quit over allegations that money had been authorized for gay sex clubs.

EU countries agree new rules to avoid tax evasion

European Union finance ministers in Brussels on Tuesday reached a political agreement on new rules to ensure that multinational corporations do not declare profits in the countries where they pay the least tax but in the countries where they generate it.

Trump condemns "horrible, painful" anti-Jewish incidents

US President Donald Trump condemned a recent spate of threats against Jewish community targets across the United States, during a visit Tuesday to the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

FinMin expects Croatia to exit Excessive Deficit Procedure this spring

Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said on Tuesday Croatia could exit the Excessive Deficit Procedure this spring and that it was showing progress in correcting macroeconomic imbalances.

Austria seeks to create jobs, but new EU immigrants need not apply

Austria plans to create 160,000 jobs in the next three years by subsidizing companies, but the project has raised concerns because it effectively excludes people who recently immigrated from other EU countries.

Juncker: Not good for W. Balkans that some in Washington want to water down EU

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday it was not good for Western Balkan countries that some people in the new US administration gave the impression of being against the European Union because those countries needed the prospects of EU membership.

Citizens invited to help create Croatian version of Monopoly

A project to create a Croatian edition of Monopoly, in which citizens can participate by submitting proposals and which could become a souvenir for tourists, was presented at a press conference on Tuesday.

German state approves full-face veil ban

Legislation that bans face veils in select public spaces and situations was agreed by the government of the southeastern German state of Bavaria on Tuesday.

Indian restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok named Asia's best for third year

Bangkok's Indian eatery Gaggan on Tuesday was named the best restaurant in Asia for the third consecutive year by Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.

HGK: 16 Croatian companies to exhibit at IDEX defence exhibition

Sixteen Croatian companies will exhibit their products at the 13th IDEX 2017 defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi, to be held on February 19-23.

Trump and the nuclear codes: Carnival again takes aim at politicians

US President Donald Trump, Brexit, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Germany's right-wing AfD party: Floats unveiled Tuesday for this year's Carnival parades in Cologne and Mainz once again turn to political satire to entertain revellers.

Barcelona police open fire on stolen lorry laden with gas canisters

Security forces in Barcelona opened fire on a stolen lorry laden with gas canisters to bring a rampage through the city to an end, police in the Spanish city said on Tuesday.

Stuttgart to issue bans on high-polluting diesel vehicles from 2018

Most diesel vehicles will be banned from roads in the southern German city of Stuttgart during times of heavy pollution, a bid to clean up the city's air, the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg decided Tuesday.