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Posts tagged ‘Open Red Coup’

Turkey fires 15,000, shuts 375 NGOs in latest coup purge

By Raziye Akkoc

Ankara (AFP)

Nov 22, 2016

Turkey on Tuesday dismissed over 15,000 state employees and ordered the closure of 375 associations within the state of emergency imposed after the July failed coup, in a purge that shows no sign of slowing.

More than 100,000 people have already been suspended or sacked so far in a crackdown on those alleged to have links to coup-plotters while dozens of media outlets have been shut down.

In the latest government decree published on Tuesday, 7,586 personnel working in the police, including police chiefs and commissioners, were dismissed.

Meanwhile 1,956 soldiers and personnel in the air force and navy were sacked while another 403 were removed from the gendarme, which looks after domestic security.

Thousands more were dismissed in government ministries and state institutions, including nearly 3,000 officials in the interior ministry and related institutions.

In total, 15,726 people have been dismissed under the latest decrees.

The dismissals are permitted under the state of emergency, which was extended by another three months in October, and was originally imposed in the wake of the coup.

But its scope has been vehemently criticized by the European Union and human rights activists.

– ‘Silence critical voices’ –

The decrees, published in the latest issue of the official gazette, also ordered the closure of 375 associations across the country working on issues ranging from rights to culture to women.

Critics have claimed that the crackdown goes well beyond the suspected coup plotters and targets anyone who has dared show opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“The closure of nearly 400 NGOs is part of an ongoing and systematic attempt by the Turkish authorities to permanently silence all critical voices,” said Amnesty International’s Europe Director, John Dalhuisen.

Amnesty said the groups closed included lawyers associations working on preventing torture, women’s rights groups working against domestic violence and local NGOs helping refugees.

Among those ordered closed is the leading Ankara-based children’s rights NGO Gundem Cocuk (The Agenda is Children).

The decrees also ordered the closure of nine provincial press outlets and 19 health institutions.

Ankara blames the coup plot on the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen and says an unrelenting campaign is needed to root out his influence from public life. Gulen denies the allegations.

Erdogan indicated in a speech on Tuesday that the purges would continue, saying that not all Gulen supporters had been rooted out of Turkish institutions.

“We know that the state has not been entirely cleared of this treacherous network.

“They are still in our armed forces, our police organisations, inside our judiciary, inside different state institutions,” he said.

In a separate development on Tuesday, Turkish authorities detained 20 staff at Silivri jail outside Istanbul accused of using the Bylock messaging app that Ankara says was specially developed by Gulen supporters for the coup plot.

Those detained include the head of the prison, named as H.T., it added. Hundreds of suspects rounded up after the coup are being held in the jail.

Source: Space War.


Turkish govt shuts down 370 civic groups, raids offices

November 12, 2016

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish opposition groups protested Saturday in Istanbul after the Interior Ministry shut down 370 civic groups on terrorism-related charges — organizations that included professional associations and women’s and children’s rights groups.

The organizations were told about the government decision Friday evening, when police raided their offices and collected their records. The Interior Ministry said 153 of the organizations had alleged ties to the Gulen network, 190 to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, eight to the Islamic State group and 19 to the banned far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army-Front, or DHKP-C.

Lawyers at the left-wing People’s Law Bureau resisted the raid, and their door was broken down by armed special forces who cleared the offices, detained four lawyers and changed the office’s locks. The four were released Saturday morning.

The Progressive Lawyers’ Association, which was also shut down, said it was not subject to such an order due to legislation protecting lawyers. Nergis Aslan, general secretary for the group, told The Associated Press the Turkish government gave no explanation for the move.

“There is serious suppression against any form of oppositional organization, association or any sort of group. We were expecting it,” she said. Turkey has come under intense criticism from opposition groups and its allies over its crackdown on dissenting voices during the state of emergency declared after the July 15 coup. Close to 37,000 people have been arrested, more than 100,000 people dismissed or suspended from government jobs, and 170 media outlets and scores of businesses and associations have been shut down over alleged ties to terrorist organizations.

Critics note that the purge, initially meant to eliminate the Gulen network that the government accuses of staging the coup, has since been extended to other opponents of the government, including pro-Kurdish and left-wing individuals.

Mehmet Onur Yilmaz of children’s rights organization Gundem Cocuk told the AP they weren’t given a reason either for their shutdown but noted that his group had filed annual reports on child abuse, warning the government of its shortcomings.

“We would like a Turkey where none of that exists of course, but what they want is a Turkey where none of this is visible,” he added. Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus defended the closures Saturday, saying Turkey has to take measures against multiple terror threats.

“Yes, we are in a period of state of emergency, but we are acting within the legal limits afforded us by the state of emergency,” he said, adding that any mistakes would be rectified. In the German city of Cologne, 20,000 protesters marched Saturday against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government’s crackdown on dissent.

Turkey fires over 1,000 soldiers, detains university staff

November 03, 2016

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s Interior Ministry has dismissed 1,218 military personnel from the gendarmerie as part of the investigation into the movement allegedly behind the failed coup in July. In a statement released Thursday, the ministry says 419 officers, 604 non-commissioned officers and 195 other personnel were dismissed Thursday.

The government says the movement of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen was responsible for the coup, which killed over 270 people. The cleric denies any involvement. Authorities have arrested close to 37,000 people and dismissed or suspended more than 100,000 personnel from government jobs in a purge to eradicate the network.

Meanwhile, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported that an unspecified number of Marmara University personnel were detained by police Thursday for using an encryption app allegedly favored by the Gulen movement.

Turkey detains opposition newspaper editor, writers

October 31, 2016

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish police detained the chief editor and at least eight senior staff of Turkey’s opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper on Monday in a continuing crackdown on dissenting voices. Editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, the paper’s lawyer and several columnists were taken into custody following raids at their homes, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Police were searching the homes of other senior staff, including the paper’s cartoonist. In all, police had warrants for the detentions of 16 staff members, the paper said.

The detentions at the left-leaning and pro-secular Cumhuriyet — one of Turkey’s oldest newspapers — come amid accusations by opposition parties and human rights groups that Turkey is using the state of emergency imposed following a failed military coup in July to clamp down not only on the alleged coup plotters but on all government critics.

A statement from the Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office said those detained were suspected of “committing crimes” on behalf of the movement led by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen — accused by the government of masterminding the coup attempt — as well as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

The statement said that while those detained are not accused of membership of the Gulen movement or the PKK, there are “claims” and “proof” that shortly before the July 15 coup attempt, the suspects published content that attempted to legitimize the coup. Gulen has denied any involvement in the coup attempt.

Authorities have arrested close to 37,000 people as part of an investigation into the coup and more than 100,000 people have been dismissed or suspended from government jobs in a purge to eradicate Gulen’s network of followers. The government over the weekend issued two new decrees that dismissed some 10,000 additional civil servants and shut down 15 mostly pro-Kurdish media outlets.

Sibel Gunes, general secretary of the Turkish Journalists’ Association, told The Associated Press that some 170 media outlets have been shut down since the attempted coup and 105 journalists have been arrested. In addition, authorities revoked the press accreditation of more than 600 journalists while thousands of journalists have been left unemployed, Gunes said.

Opposition legislators, including Mahmut Tanal of the Republican People’s Party, rushed to Cumhuriyet’s headquarters in a show of solidarity and condemned the “unlawful and completely political” raid.

“This is an operation against the mentality that defends the secular rule of law. It is an operation against citizens’ right to information, right to learn. We will not remain silent,” Tanal said. Cumhuriyet columnist Ayse Yildirim said the detentions could be a prelude toward a government takeover of the newspaper.

“We are not going to hand over Cumhuriyet, we are not going to allow them to assign a trustee. We will hold our heads high and continue our publication without fear,” she said outside of the paper’s Istanbul headquarters.

Cartoonist Musa Kart, who was also wanted for questioning, told reporters outside the building as he left to turn himself into police: “How will they explain this to the world? I am being taken into custody for drawing cartoons.” Kart has been prosecuted in the past for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a cartoon.

Anadolu Agency said authorities had also issued a warrant for the arrest of the paper’s former editor-in-chief, Can Dundar, who was sentenced to five years in prison in May for reports in Cumhuriyet on alleged arms smuggling to Syrian rebels. The verdict is being appealed. Dundar left Turkey after the coup attempt citing a lack of judicial independence and saying he would not receive a fair trial under the circumstances.

Meanwhile, two prominent Kurdish politicians, Gultan Kisanak, the mayor of Turkey’s largest Kurdish-populated city of Diyarbakir, and co-mayor Firat Anli, were formally put under arrest on Sunday, days after they were taken into custody for questioning on terrorism-related charges. The two are accused of “speaking positively about the terror organization,” referring to the PKK, and allowing the use of municipal vehicles for Kurdish militants’ funerals, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Access to the internet in the region has been periodically blocked since Wednesday — a move which rights activists say is aimed at restricting calls for demonstrations to denounce the mayors’ detentions through social media.

Associated Press writers Cinar Kiper in Istanbul and Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed.

Turkey to release 38,000 from jail; frees space for plotters

August 17, 2016

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey issued a decree Wednesday paving the way for the conditional release of 38,000 prisoners, the justice minister said — an apparent move to reduce its prison population to make space for thousands of people who have been arrested as part of an investigation into last month’s failed coup.

The decree allows the release of inmates who have two years or less to serve of their prison terms and makes convicts who have served half of their prison term eligible for parole. Some prisoners are excluded from the measures: people convicted of murder, domestic violence, sexual abuse or terrorism and other crimes against the state.

The measures would not apply for crimes committed after July 1, excluding any people later convicted of coup involvement. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on his Twitter account the measure would lead to the release of some 38,000 people. He insisted it was not a pardon or an amnesty but a conditional release of prisoners.

The government says the July 15 coup, which led to at least 270 deaths, was carried out by followers of the movement led by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen who have infiltrated the military and other state institutions. Gulen has denied any prior knowledge or involvement in the coup but Turkey is demanding that the United States extradite him.

The Turkish government declared a state of emergency and launched a massive crackdown on Gulen’s supporters in the aftermath of the coup. Some 35,000 people have been detained for questioning and more than 17,000 of them have been formally arrested to face trial, including soldiers, police, judges and journalists.

Tens of thousands more people with suspected links to Gulen have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs in the judiciary, media, education, health care, military and local government. The government crackdown has raised concerns among European nations and human rights organizations, who have urged the Turkish government to show restraint.

Turkish police raid 44 companies in probe into failed coup

August 16, 2016

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s state-run news agency says police have launched simultaneous raids on 44 companies suspected of providing financial support to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen’s movement.

Turkey accuses Gulen of being behind the July 15 failed coup, a claim Gulen denies. The Anadolu Agency says Tuesday’s raids in Istanbul’s Umraniye and Uskudar districts came after authorities issued warrants to detain 120 company executives as part of the investigation into the coup attempt. The agency did not identify the companies searched.

The government has launched a massive crackdown on suspected supporters of Gulen’s movement. More than 35,000 people have been detained for questioning while tens of thousands of others have been dismissed from government jobs, including in the judiciary, media, education, health care, military and local government.

Police search Istanbul courthouses as part of coup probe

August 15, 2016

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s state-run news agency says police teams are conducting operations at three Istanbul courthouses as part of an investigation into the July 15 abortive coup. Anadolu Agency said the Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office had issued a detention order for 173 personnel working at Istanbul’s Caglayan, Bakirkoy and Gaziosmanpasa courthouses.

The moves are part of the government’s ongoing investigation into the movement led by U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. Ankara alleges Gulen was responsible for the violent coup attempt that left over 270 people dead.

Gulen denies any involvement. Police entered the courthouses Monday morning to detain the suspects and conduct searches of their offices and computers, while other teams were searching their homes. Four courthouse personnel were detained last week as part of the same investigation.

Turkey says failed coup was decades in the making

August 15, 2016

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish investigators call it the ultimate long game. In 1986, the Turkish military expelled dozens of cadets suspected of loyalty to a young Muslim cleric named Fethullah Gulen, seen as a potential threat to the country’s strict secular rule. Officials, a magazine reported at the time, said an alleged recruiter had told the students to work their way through the ranks and wait for instructions that would come in a few decades.

Fast forward 30 years to July 15, when renegade officers staged a failed coup and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Gulen of orchestrating it. Gulen, now based in Pennsylvania, denies any involvement, but a rising tide of allegations challenges the moderate image promoted by his Islamist movement and casts it as a cover for secret designs on Turkish power that included efforts to infiltrate state institutions decades ago.

In the 1970s, when Turkey was run by a military-backed, secular government, the group seemed like a conventional religious movement that attracted young, middle-class recruits through a successful network of schools and dormitories.

Gulen, who had been associated with Islamic mysticism, promoted a message of tolerance and charity along with Turkish patriotism. His group — known as Hizmet, Turkish for “service” — raised money through donations from individuals and businesses. By the early 1990s, it was expanding into other countries with a network of schools, burnishing an international reputation as an advocate of interfaith harmony.

The movement’s benevolent message initially enabled its followers to dodge the harshest persecution of Turkey’s secular rulers. But as it grew in influence, the government began to view the movement with suspicion.

Authorities alleged its supervisors — known as “brothers” — helped followers cheat on exams to land government jobs. Once they were in place, according to Hanefi Avci, a former national police chief who investigated the group, they “acted in a coordinated effort to promote and protect one another and eliminate opponents.”

The group enjoyed wide influence in schools, the news media and police forces in an expanding power base, and authorities began to crack down on pieces of the movement such as the 1986 purge of military cadets.

Authorities point to Gulen’s own words as evidence of his designs. In comments recorded in the 1980s, Gulen referred to crackdowns on Islamists in Syria and Egypt and told a group of followers to bide their time, saying: “You must move within the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers.”

Gulen, who later said those remarks were misinterpreted, moved to the United States in the late 1990s while facing trial on charges of plotting to overthrow Turkey’s government. His movement continued to grow, and eventually helped to topple the staunchly secular leaders who had been so wary of it.

In 2002 elections, Gulen’s followers supported the candidacy of the former Istanbul mayor, who himself had been jailed for several months by secular authorities and won with the backing of a pious Muslim class that had been sidelined to decades.

His name was Erdogan. Erdogan insists he put up with the Gulenists as a practical matter: He needed all the help he could get to defeat the secularists. “We tolerated them for the sake of the widespread aid, education and solidarity activities — inside and outside of the country — that they seemed to be conducting,” he said this month. “We tolerated them because they said ‘Allah.'”

The military leadership remained unconvinced. Ilker Basbug, who was Turkey’s military chief from 2008 to 2010, said in a recent interview with CNN Turk television that he warned Erdogan about the threat from Gulen’s backers in the military, which had stopped purging suspected Islamists.

“Today this threat is to us, tomorrow it’s to you,” he says he told Erdogan. According to Basbug, Erdogan responded: “My commander, you are exaggerating.” After he retired, Basbug was jailed on charges of plotting to overthrow the state, one of hundreds of people associated with the old secular order who were targeted by alleged Gulen sympathizers in the police and judiciary. Avci, the former national police chief who had written a book about the alleged threat from Gulen’s supporters, was also imprisoned.

Erdogan initially supported some of the investigations, but he eventually disowned them amid revelations of forged evidence and other irregularities. Meanwhile, the Turkish leader’s alliance with Gulen was unraveling as he sought to dismantle what he described as a “parallel state” in the police and other institutions. In what Erdogan later described as an attempted coup, prosecutors believed to be loyal to Gulen launched a high-profile corruption probe in December 2013, embarrassing the government.

Tensions rose further in 2014, when Erdogan switched from prime minister to president in a move seen by critics as a bid to amass even more power. Finally, on July 15, elements of the military rose up. They occupied airports, bridges and military bases, took the military chief hostage and accused the government of eroding democracy and the rule of law. Rival forces clashed, and Erdogan supporters took to the streets in support of their president. Some protesters were cut down by gunfire from mutinous soldiers, but by morning it was clear that the coup had failed. In all, 272 people were dead.

Erdogan was quick to point the finger: He said the coup was the work of Gulenists. Gulen condemned the coup, although he conceded that some of his sympathizers might have been involved. “You can think about many motivations of people who staged this coup. They could be sympathizers of the opposition party. They could be sympathizers of the nationalist party. It could be anything,” Gulen told reporters at his Pennsylvania compound the day after the coup.

Yet he still had harsh words for Erdogan, whom he called an authoritarian figure, and his government. He said it has shown “no tolerance for any movement, any group, any organization that is not under their total control.”

Torchia reported from Johannesburg. He was The Associated Press’ bureau chief in Turkey from 2007-13, and covered the aftermath of the attempted coup last month.

Brazil has been brought to its knees, but Turkey is standing firm against anti-democracy coups

August 9, 2016

On 15 July, a bloody coup attempt was staged in Turkey; it was unsuccessful. Army officers and soldiers belonging to the Gülenist FETO terrorist organisation barricaded strategic bridges and locations in Ankara and Istanbul, and seized the General Staff Headquarters. They tried to eliminate the elected president and government of the country. However, when the people took to the streets and began fighting, it was clear that the coup would not succeed. Unfortunately, 250 people, most of them civilians, were killed. Since then, a significant number of the organisation’s members — mostly in the military — have been discharged from their positions within state institutions. According to the confessions of those who took part in the coup, it was carried out on the order of the organisation’s leader, Fethullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania and has called those who died during the coup “fools”. A formal request for his extradition has been filed by the Turkish government, but it has yet to be acted upon by the US.

The coup was the third unsuccessful attempt in Turkey since 2013. The first started with the Gezi Park protest between May and June 2013 and was followed by an effort to overthrow the government with allegations of corruption in December that year. A country that has gone through a similar ordeal as Turkey but was forced to its knees at the second attempt is Brazil.

It is interesting to note that both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Turkey led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the Workers’ Party in Brazil led by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were both elected to govern their country in 2002. Both countries were on the verge of an economic and political breakdown but were stabilized by their respective leaders’ reforms. The election of the AK Party and Workers’ Party was a reflection of the middle and lower classes’ longing for stability in countries that were nearly collapsing as a result of economic mismanagement. The GDP of both countries increased significantly and they became safe-zones for foreign investment.

Lula’s Brazil and Erdogan’s Turkey showed stability and rapid development and began to have more influence in the global arena. While both managed to act in accordance with the free market economy, they also managed to protect their national economy, and after 2007 their economic status went head to head with many Western states. The Brazilian and Turkish leadership developed policies on regional and global issues which differed from those of Washington and other western capitals. Both leaders visited Tehran in 2010 to sign agreements with Iran to support its non-military nuclear program, despite the West’s embargo and war threats. Although the terms of the agreements comply with the West’s main insistence over nuclear exchange, the moves by Ankara and Brasilia were not taken well by Western leaders.

Similarly, the common stance of both countries against Israel’s occupation of Palestine was very different from the policies of the West. Both made clear their view that Israel should withdraw to its 1967 borders, stop the construction of illegal Jewish colony-settlements and end the blockade of the Gaza Strip. In following policies which differed to those of the hegemonic West, whilst also questioning the organizational structure of the UN, there was thus proof of an alternative approach to that propounded by the Western-centric foreign policy axis.

After serving two consecutive terms of office, Lula handed over to his close friend and colleague Dilma Rousseff in 2011. She followed in Lula’s footsteps in her foreign and domestic politics. Whereas in 2002 the middle class was represented by only 38 per cent of the population, after the 2014 election this figure rose to 55 per cent and has been attributed to Lula’s and Rousseff’s successful and determined economic policies. Turkey’s and Brazil’s stabilized economies, having caught up with the economic level of developed countries in 2007, provided some hope for other countries whose development was being hindered by the West.

Although they may be said to be coincidental, anti-government protests occurred almost simultaneously in Turkey and Brazil. The Gezi Park protest was sparked after a small group complained about some urban development in the park. The protest grew larger and spread across Turkey, fueled by the Western media pushing for Erdogan to resign. In reality, the media campaign against the popular elected leadership betrayed the fact that this was a campaign against Turkey, not its political leadership. It was later discovered that members of FETO within the police force had enabled the protest to grow so dramatically. This first attempt by FETO against the government was echoed by the western public and media.

In Brazil, meanwhile, people were protesting about public transport; demonstrations spread quickly into nationwide protests and demands for the government to resign. As in Turkey, the protesters in Brazil also attacked public buildings and the protests turned violent. Decisive government action in both countries eventually brought the protests to a halt, but that was not the end of the matter.

In December 2013 four ministers in Turkey were accused of fraud. The individual corruption cases were somehow intertwined and Erdogan was also dragged into them along with his family, after the appearance of fake documents. This was also discovered to be the work of FETO members within the security agencies and judiciary, and was again overcome thanks to decisive government positions. It was later discovered that FETO had received huge amounts of money after threats and blackmail. The Western media, rather interestingly, decided to conceal the fact that FETO was behind this attempt to bring the government down and tried to justify this by accusations against Erdogan’s administration.

Whereas that particular coup attempt failed in Turkey, the Brazilian government was overthrown following corruption allegations. Just as there were FETO-supporting MPs within the government in Ankara, so too were there MPs within the Workers’ Party in Brazil who supported the coup. Some politicians and judges from the coup era began suing Lula and Rousseff.

The second operation against Lula and Rousseff started in mid-2014 with accusations that some managers of the state-partnered energy company Petrobas were being bribed and transferred money to political figures over a period of 10 years. At first, the fingers were pointed only at some minor politicians and managers, but then judges also accused Rousseff and Lula; they were both on the Petrobas board. A year before the accusations were made public it was discovered that America was spying on Petrobas and listening-in to Brazil’s state telecommunications as well as Rousseff herself. This strengthens the argument that the US had an important part to play in Rousseff and Lula being linked to the Petrobas scandal and efforts to bring them down.

As happened in Turkey, the transcripts of hundreds of recorded phone calls were published in order to strengthen the corruption accusations against Rousseff and Lula. Although there was no concrete evidence against Rousseff, on 12 May this year she was suspended from the party after being voted out by other MPs. The former President of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, who led the way in sidelining Rousseff, was also suspended from his position one month later for corruption, the abuse of power and threatening behavior. At the same time the resignation of the Minister of Transparency, Supervision and Control of Brazil, Fabiano Silveira, and the Senator from Roraima, Romero Juca after trying to use Rousseff’s impeachment to divert attention from accusations of corruption against themselves is, evidence which suggests that there was a coup attempt against the Brazilian president. It is known that Brazil’s Acting President Michel Temer has close links to the CIA; this has been confirmed by Wikileaks documents, as has the introduction of the IMF and Goldman Sachs to economic positions within the new government.

Although Brazil lost the battle with the second coup, Turkey lives to fight another day. A large proportion of the population believe firmly that the US and other Western countries were behind the July coup attempt. This is not only because Fethullah Gülen lives in America and is not as yet being extradited by the US, but also due to statements coming out of Washington such as, “A number of the US military’s closest allies in the Turkish military have been placed in jail following the coup attempt.” American and Western media support for the coup makes US complicity all the more convincing and likely.

With the coup operations carried out against Lula and Rousseff in Brazil, and Erdogan in Turkey, Brazil may have lost in the second round but Turkey is still standing strong. This time, though, Turkey as a nation is prepared for other probable attempts to derail democracy in the country. While Brazil may have been edged out of the international arena, Turkey remains firm as the only country that continues to inspire the global South with its independent and anti-western foreign and economic policies.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Turkish admiral seeks asylum in US after coup bid: report

Ankara (AFP)

Aug 10, 2016

A Turkish rear admiral on a NATO assignment in the US has sought asylum in the country after Ankara sought his detention following the failed July 15 coup, state-run media said Wednesday.

Turkish authorities have ousted thousands of military personnel including nearly half its generals and admirals since a rogue military faction tried to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power.

Rear Admiral Mustafa Zeki Ugurlu is the subject of a detention order in Turkey and has been expelled from the armed forces, the Anadolu news agency reported.

He has requested asylum from US authorities, it added, without giving its source. He had been stationed at NATO’s Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia, the news agency said.

Ugurlu had not been heard from since July 22 when he left the base, Anadolu said.

Izmir’s chief prosecutor Okan Bato told Anadolu he was not able to get a statement from Ugurlu after seeking the prosecution of two admirals from the chief of staff.

NATO said on Wednesday that Turkey’s membership of the military alliance was “not in question”, despite the tumult in the country.

Anadolu did not say whether the United States had accepted Ugurlu’s claim, believed to be the first of its kind since July 15, which comes at a time of strained relations between Washington and Ankara.

The Turkish government has repeatedly pressed Washington to extradite Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gulen whom it blames for the coup bid, warning Washington that relations could suffer over the issue.

“If the US does not deliver (Gulen), they will sacrifice relations with Turkey for the sake of a terrorist,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters during a televised briefing in the capital Ankara on Tuesday.

Gulen strongly denies the accusations and his lawyer on Friday said Ankara had failed to provide “a scintilla” of proof to support its claims.

Since July 15, tens of thousands of people from the military, judiciary, civil service and education establishment suspected of links with Gulen and his Islamic movement have been sacked or detained.

Source: Space War.


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