Turkey targets ex-airforce staff over alleged coup links

In this file photo, policemen stand atop military armored vehicles after troops involved in the coup surrendered on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey. (Reuters)
Updated 07 December 2018
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Turkey targets ex-airforce staff over alleged coup links

  • Turkish authorities have detained more than 50,000 people over the last two years as part of an investigation into followers of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen
  • The authorities also issued an arrest warrant for journalist Can Dundar as part of an investigation into protests in Istanbul in 2013

ANKARA: Turkish police on Friday arrested dozens of military personnel in another round of nationwide raids against people with alleged links to the group blamed for the 2016 failed coup, state media reported.
Forty-one suspects had been detained by late Friday morning, according to state news agency Anadolu, after the Ankara public prosecutor ordered arrest warrants for 87 former non-commissioned officers in the Turkish airforce.
The police operations were launched in 16 provinces across the country including Ankara, Istanbul and the Aegean city of Izmir.
Turkish authorities have detained more than 50,000 people over the last two years as part of an investigation into followers of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, while nearly 130,000 public sector workers have been dismissed from their jobs.
In a separate series of raids, 40 police in Istanbul were detained after the public prosecutor issued 41 arrest warrants over alleged links to Gulen.
Ankara accuses Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, of ordering the failed overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Gulen strongly denies the claims.
The latest detentions come after Turkish police detained nearly 140 people across the country on Tuesday over suspected links to Gulen after nearly 300 arrest warrants had been issued by different prosecutors.
Turkey refers to the movement as the "Fethullah Terrorist Organisation" but the group insists it is a peaceful organisation, promoting Islam and secular education.
Earlier this week, Turkish authorities issued an arrest warrant for journalist Can Dundar as part of an investigation into protests in Istanbul in 2013 against President Tayyip Erdogan’s rule, state-run Anadolu agency said.
Prosecutors said he played an active role in the protests and provoked public unrest through social media.
They also said he supported members of a terrorist organization against the police, the news agency said.
It is not clear how the warrant can be served because Dundar has left the country.
Dundar, a former editor of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, was sentenced in 2016 to five years for publishing a video purporting to show Turkey’s intelligence agency trucking weapons into Syria. He was released pending appeal and went abroad.
Hundreds of thousands of people marched in 2013 to protest a plan to build a replica of an Ottoman barracks on Gezi Park in the center of the city. The protests turned into a direct challenge to Erdogan’s government.
“#HepmizGezideydik We feel proud,” Dundar wrote on his Twitter on Wednesday, sharing Anadolu’s story about his arrest warrant. The hashtag translates to: “We were all at Gezi.”
Two weeks ago 13 people were arrested as part of the Gezi investigation.
Erdogan says the protests were organized and financed by Osman Kavala, a businessman and rights activists. Kavala was detained more than a year ago in connection with the investigation.
He has not been charged over the protests and denies the claim against him.
The prosecutor also said Dundar was in contact with Kavala during the protests in a written arrest request to the court, Anadolu reported.
Turkey’s Western allies have voiced concern over the crackdown on journalists, academics, rights activists and criticized Erdogan for using it to muzzle dissent and increase his own power.


Turkey vows to keep striking PKK targets in Iraq

Updated 53 min 28 sec ago
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Turkey vows to keep striking PKK targets in Iraq

  • Turkish foreign ministry said the country expected neighboring Iraq to fulfill its responsibilities in combatting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party
  • Turkey will invoke its “legitimate right to self-defense” if Iraq “does not do what’s necessary”

ISTANBUL: Turkey says it will continue to defend itself against terrorists after its strikes against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq sparked criticism from Baghdad.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Saturday that Turkey expected neighboring Iraq to fulfill its responsibilities in combatting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. He says Turkey will invoke its “legitimate right to self-defense” if Iraq “does not do what’s necessary.”
Iraq summoned Turkey’s ambassador on Friday to protest Turkish air raids on Iraq’s Sinjar and Makhmour mountains, where the PKK operates. The group has waged an insurgency inside Turkey for more than three decades but also fought against the Daesh group in Iraq.
The Turkish Defense Ministry says Thursday’s strikes targeted PKK bases that supply Kurdish positions in northern Syria.