Arrests in Turkey surpass 13,000 as crackdown focuses on journalists, academics

by WorldTribune Staff, July 25, 2016

Turkey is arresting, firing or suspending scores of journalists, school teachers and university heads as some 13,000 people have now been ensnared in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s post-coup dragnet.

Authorities issued detention warrants for 42 journalists, local media say, as part of an inquiry into the failed coup on July 15.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. /Anadolu Ajansı)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. /Anadolu Agency

Prominent commentator Nazli Ilicak is said to be on the list. Ilicak was fired from the pro-government Sabah daily in 2013 for criticizing ministers caught up in a corruption scandal.

The closure of several media outlets was ordered in the days following the attempted coup, but this is the first time that individual journalists have been identified, the BBC’s Nick Thorpe in Istanbul reported.

Also detained were 31 academics, including professors, who were accused of having links to cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkish authorities say helped engineer the coup attempt.

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.

Erdogan’s government says the crackdown is necessary in order to clear out the influence of Gulen from Turkey’s institutions, claiming he has created a “parallel state” inside Turkey.

Meanwhile, Human Rights group Amnesty International says it has received “credible evidence” of detainees being subjected to beatings and torture, including rape, since the coup attempt.

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 European Union.

Turkey has also floated the idea of bringing back the death penalty, which the EU said would automatically eliminate Ankara from gaining EU membership.