NEWS BRIEF President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suspended nearly 13,000 police officers over suspected links to Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric Turkey says is responsible for the July 15 coup attempt.
The news comes hours after Turkey extended its state of emergency for another three months, a move that gave Erdogan full power over parliament since five days after the coup attempt, in which members of the military tried to take over the government. The suspensions amount to about 5 percent of the country’s entire police force. A statement from Turkish police, translated by Al Jazeera, said the government said the suspended officers “have been assessed to have communications or links to the Gulenist Terror Organization, identified as a threat to national security.”
Gulen is accused of leading a campaign to overthrow Erdogan’s government by setting up what the government calls a parallel state. The movement, the government says, has infiltrated the military, police, and judiciary.
Turkey also suspended several dozen air-force officers, as well as workers in the Interior Ministry’s headquarters, and closed a TV station for spreading “terrorist propaganda.” Since the coup attempt, Turkey has suspended about 100,000 people in the military, civil service, police, and at universities from their jobs for suspected ties to Gulen, who has denied any links to the coup attempt. The government has also arrested more than 32,000 people.
Erdogan has repeatedly asked the U.S. to extradite Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Gulen says he will not receive a fair trial if judged in Turkey.
Erdogan’s critics believe he has used the coup as an opportunity to crack down on his political opposition. Before the coup, Erdogan was often accused of trying to silence critics, and he has since taken advantage of the state of emergency to close down dozens of media outlets. Opposition parties have asked Erdogan to return to parliamentary government, but Erdogan has said the state of emergency could last up to a year.