Turkey detains dozens of ministry staff in post-coup investigation

Tue May 16, 2017 2:00pm GMT
 

By Daren Butler

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey detained dozens of energy and education ministry staff on Tuesday in an investigation targeting the network of a U.S.-based cleric whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating last July's attempted coup, state media said.

Some 50,000 people have been formally arrested in court cases targeting supporters of cleric Fethullah Gulen. President Tayyip Erdogan, who is meeting his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in Washington on Tuesday, is seeking Gulen's extradition.

Arrest warrants were issued for 60 energy ministry-linked workers and 25 education ministry staff and some 40 have already been detained, state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Many of them had previously been dismissed from their posts.

Anadolu said the suspects were believed to have been users of Bylock, an encrypted messaging app the government says was used by Gulen's followers.

The arrest warrants came after a court on Monday jailed opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet's online editor pending trial on a charge of spreading terrorist propaganda, the paper said.

Editor Oguz Guven joined a dozen journalists from Cumhuriyet, long a pillar of the secularist establishment, who are already in jail facing sentences of up to 43 years in prison, accused of supporting Gulen's network.

Mass detentions were initially supported by many Turks and authorities say the measures are justified by the gravity of last July's attempted coup, in which rogue troops commandeered warplanes to bomb parliament and used tanks to kill 240 people.

But criticism has mounted as the arrests widened, with relatives of many of those detained or sacked denying their involvement in the coup and calling them victims of a purge.   Continued...

FILE PJHOTO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the Roundtable Summit Phase One Sessions of Belt and Road Forum at the International Conference Center in Yanqi Lake on May 15, 2017 in Beijing, China  REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool
 
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