Accessibility links

Turkey Aims New Crackdown at Journalists, Academics, Airline Workers

  • Ken Bredemeier

Protesters wave a large Turkish flag during an anti-coup rally in Taksim Square in Istanbul, July 25, 2016.

Protesters wave a large Turkish flag during an anti-coup rally in Taksim Square in Istanbul, July 25, 2016.

Turkey targeted journalists, academics and airline workers Monday in its ongoing crackdown on people allegedly linked to the exiled Muslim cleric it says directed the failed military coup against the Ankara government.

Turkish authorities issued warrants for the detention of 42 journalists, took 31 academics into custody and fired 211 workers at Turkish Airlines.

Turkey also detained three fugitive soldiers on suspicion of taking part in an attack on a hotel in the Aegean Sea resort of Marmaris, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was vacationing when the putsch unfolded July 15. Erdogan has said that if he waited 15 minutes more before fleeing the hotel, he would have been killed or taken hostage. Four other soldiers are still on the run.

State-run news agency Anadolu said prominent writer Nazli Ilicak is among the journalists wanted for questioning. He has been critical of Erdogan and opposed his government clampdown on followers of Fethullah Gulen, the 75-year-old cleric who has been living in the eastern U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1999.

Extradition wanted

Ankara blames Gulen for the uprising that left about 290 people dead, and is demanding his extradition. Washington says it is considering documents Turkey sent about Gulen's alleged involvement in the failed coup, but has made no commitment to return him.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the attempt to overthrow Erdogan.

Prosecutors requested the detention of the journalists, saying it was not because of their "journalistic activities, but possible criminal conduct."

The 31 academics included professors in Istanbul and four other provinces. Meanwhile, authorities detained 40 people at the Istanbul-based War Academy.

Erdogan's crackdown has been extensive. The government has declared a three-month state of emergency and detained more than 13,000 people in the military, judiciary and other institutions.

A worker at the office building housing the Turkish satirical cartoon magazine Leman talks on the phone in Istanbul, July 25, 2016. A printed edition about the failed coup attempt was prevented from being distributed last week by Turkish authorities.

A worker at the office building housing the Turkish satirical cartoon magazine Leman talks on the phone in Istanbul, July 25, 2016. A printed edition about the failed coup attempt was prevented from being distributed last week by Turkish authorities.

Turkish media last week reported that the education ministry fired 15,200 teachers across the country, while the interior ministry dismissed nearly 9,000 workers. Another 1,500 people in the finance ministry were fired, as were hundreds more in the religious affairs directorate, the family and social policy ministry and the prime minister's office.The country's higher education board demanded the resignations of 1,577 university deans.

Old allies, bad blood

Gulen lives on the grounds of the Golden Generation Worship & Retreat Center, an Islamic facility founded by Turkish Americans. His philosophy mixes a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue. His movement operates dozens of schools in the United States.

U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers Turkey blames for a failed coup, is shown in still image taken from video, speaks to journalists at his home in Saylorsburg, Pa., July 16, 2016.

U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers Turkey blames for a failed coup, is shown in still image taken from video, speaks to journalists at his home in Saylorsburg, Pa., July 16, 2016.

Erdogan and Gulen were once allies, but had a falling out over 2013 corruption investigations in Turkey, which the Turkish leader blamed on Gulen.

The exiled Gulen has also criticized Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule, while the Turkish leader has carried out a broad campaign against Gulen's movement.

XS
SM
MD
LG