Turkey mulls new terror laws as emergency ends

People wave Turkish flags during a commemoration event for the second anniversary of a botched coup attempt, in Ankara. (AP)
Updated 19 July 2018
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Turkey mulls new terror laws as emergency ends

  • Some 130,000 civil servants have been purged from government jobs for purported links to terror organizations
  • Turkey has arrested more than 75,000 people for alleged links to Fethullah Gulen

ANKARA: As Turkey’s controversial two-year-long state of emergency comes to an end, the government is set to introduce new anti-terrorism laws it says are needed to deal with continued security threats.
The opposition insists the laws are just as oppressive as the emergency powers they will replace.
Turkey declared a three-month state of emergency days after a violent failed coup attempt in 2016, and has extended it seven times since then.
As part of a campaign promise before his victory in month’s elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had pledged not to prolong the state of emergency when it expires at midnight Wednesday.
Instead, a parliamentary committee is on Thursday scheduled to debate government-proposed legislation that, among other things, would allow authorities to press ahead with mass dismissals of civil servants and hold some suspects in custody for up to 12 days. A vote in the general assembly could be held next week.
Under the state of emergency, Turkey has arrested more than 75,000 people for alleged links to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric whom Ankara blames for the failed coup attempt.
Some 130,000 civil servants have been purged from government jobs for purported links to terror organizations.
Among them are judges, prosecutors, police and military officers, teachers and academics. Many have repeatedly declared their innocence. Gulen himself denies involvement in the coup attempt.
If approved, the new anti-terror laws would also allow governors to bar entry into certain regions for up to 15 days. Open-air demonstrations would be restricted to daylight hours.
“They are bringing to Parliament new legislation that is aimed at making the state of emergency permanent,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party said of the anti-terror laws on Tuesday.
Turkey says the anti-terror measures are necessary because it is the target of several “terror” groups, including a network of Gulen supporters, Kurdish rebels and Daesh.


Trump: Turkey making ‘terrible mistake’

Turkish government officials did not comment on Trump’s remarks when they spoke after prayers to mark the start of the festival. (AFP)
Updated 26 min 32 sec ago
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Trump: Turkey making ‘terrible mistake’

  • Turkey has demanded that the US hand over Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in the US and who Ankara says orchestrated a failed coup attempt
  • A Turkish court last week rejected Brunson’s appeal for release, drawing a stiff rebuke from Trump

ISTANBUL: The lira weakened against the dollar on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump said he would give Turkey no concessions in return for the release of a detained American pastor, the latest salvo in a worsening rift between the NATO allies.
In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Trump criticized Ankara over the detention of the evangelical Christian pastor, Andrew Brunson, and said he was not concerned that his tough stance against Turkey could end up hurting European and emerging market economies.
Brunson, who is originally from North Carolina and has lived in Turkey for two decades, has been detained for 21 months on terrorism charges, which he denies. The pastor has become an unwitting flashpoint for the diplomatic tension, which has accelerated the crisis in the lira.
Trump said that, after he helped persuade Israel to free a detained Turkish citizen, he thought Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan would then release Brunson.
“I think they’re making a terrible mistake. There will be no concessions,” Trump said.
The lira weakened to 6.0925 against the US currency by 1111 GMT, from a close of 6.0865 on Monday, when Turkish markets began a holiday to mark the Muslim Eid Al-Adha festival that continues for the rest of this week.
Trade was thinner than usual and probably mainly offshore, with local markets closed for the holiday. The currency has lost 40 percent of its value against the dollar this year. However, selling on Tuesday was limited due to a broadly weaker dollar.
Turkish government officials did not comment on Trump’s remarks when they spoke after prayers to mark the start of the festival.
Devlet Bahceli, leader of a nationalist party allied with Erdogan’s AK Party, told reporters: “We have no business with those who love Brunson more than us.”

Prayers and gifts
Erdogan, who had been expected to speak to reporters after morning prayers, made no public statement.
He has repeatedly cast the currency crisis as an attack on Turkey but has stopped short of singling out any one country.
He prayed on Tuesday morning at a mosque near the tourist resort of Marmaris on the south coast and then handed out gifts to local children, the Milliyet newspaper reported.
He also spoke by phone to soldiers stationed near the border with Iraq, sending them greetings for Eid Al-Adha.
“I believe that as long as you stand tall our flag will not fall, our call to prayer will not fall silent and this homeland of ours will not be divided,” the Hurriyet newspaper reported him as saying.
On Monday, he appealed to Turks’ religious and patriotic feelings ahead of the holiday, promising they would not be brought “to their knees” by the economic crisis.
Turkey has demanded that the US hand over Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in the US and who Ankara says orchestrated a failed coup attempt, but Washington has balked at this.
A Turkish court last week rejected Brunson’s appeal for release, drawing a stiff rebuke from Trump. The US president — who counts evangelical Christians among his core supporters — has said he would double previously announced tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports.
On Monday Turkey initiated a dispute complaint with the World Trade Organization over the tariffs.
Separately, ratings agency Fitch said on Tuesday that tight liquidity amplified risks for Turkish companies.
Another ratings agency, DBRS, said European banks with Turkey exposure face a manageable capital impact.
Underlining the increased diplomatic tensions between Turkey and the US, the US Embassy in Ankara came under gunfire on Monday. Nobody was injured and Turkish authorities later detained two men over the incident.