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Turkey targets media in new crackdown after coup

Istanbul anti-terror prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 42 journalists as part of the coup investigation, state media said.

By: AFP | Ankara |
July 25, 2016 7:04:01 pm
Turkey coup, turkey military coup, turkey failed military coup attempt, turkey cop attempt, Turkey news, Tayyip Erdogan, news, latest news, world news, international news, Kurdistan Workers' Party, Turkey purge, Fethullah Gulen Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, heads an emergency meeting of the National Security Council with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, center left, Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, center right, and ministers in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service, Pool via AP)

Turkish authorities on Monday issued arrest warrants for over 40 journalists in a new phase of a controversial legal crackdown after the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that has alarmed the West.

With Erdogan seeking to rally national cross-party support for his rule 10 days after defeating the attempted putsch, he hosted two top opposition leaders for an unprecedented meeting at his presidential palace.

Over 13,000 people have been detained so far in a vast sweep in the wake of the July 15 military coup bid, which the authorities blame on the reclusive US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The crackdown has raised tensions with the European Union, further hampering Ankara’s stalled membership bid, while a potential diplomatic crisis with Washington is looming if the United States refuses to extradite Gulen to Turkey, a fellow NATO member.

Istanbul anti-terror prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 42 journalists as part of the coup investigation, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. Among those targeted were prominent journalist Nazli Ilicak who was fired from the pro-government Sabah daily in 2013 for criticising ministers caught up in a corruption scandal, it added.

Five people have been detained so far although 11 of the suspects are believed to already be outside the country, the Dogan news agency said. Other prominent journalists hit with warrants include the commentator Bulent Mumay and the news editor of Fox TV in Turkey, Ercan Gun.

Erdogan’s government had been under fire even before the failed putsch for restricting press freedoms, accusations the authorities strongly deny. The French foreign ministry said Turkey’s response to the coup “should not compromise the rule of law and fundamental liberties like freedom of the press.”

In new raids today, police detained some 40 people at the army’s military academy in Istanbul.

Meanwhile, 31 academics, including professors, were detained in an operation in Istanbul over alleged links to Gulen, Dogan said.

Amnesty International claimed it had “credible evidence” of the beating, rape and torture of post-coup detainees but a Turkish official vehemently denied the accusations.

Turkey has undergone a seismic shift since the night of violence when renegade soldiers sought to topple Erdogan but were stopped by crowds of civilians and loyalist security forces. At least 270 people were killed on both sides.

The authorities have announced they will disband the 2,500-strong presidential guard, which has seen almost 300 members detained. The length of time suspects can be held in custody without charge has been extended from four days to one month under a state of emergency that has caused alarm in the EU.

The government says the stringent measures are needed to clear out the influence of Gulen from Turkey’s institutions, claiming he has created a “parallel state” inside Turkey. Gulen, 75, who lives in a compound in rural Pennsylvania and whose foundation runs a global network of schools, charities and media interests, has strongly denied the accusations.

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