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.


Israel locks down Ramallah after two soldiers shot dead

Updated 14 December 2018
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Israel locks down Ramallah after two soldiers shot dead

  • The bloodshed began when Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinians
  • Hours later, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded a third

AMMAN: Israel was accused on Thursday of humiliating Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by placing Ramallah on virtual lockdown amid a 24-hour outbreak of violence in which five people died.

The bloodshed began when Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinians suspected of earlier attacks. Salah Barghouti, 29, was accused of shooting seven Israelis on Sunday at a bus station near the Ofra settlement. Ashraf Naalwa, 23, shot two Israelis dead in the Barkan industrial zone settlement in October.

Hours later, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded a third when he opened fire at the Ofra bus station.

Israeli forces chased the gunman into Ramallah, where they set up road blocks, launched raids and placed the town under virtual siege. In the hunt for the gunman, a Palestinian was shot dead in Al-Bireh neighborhood of Ramallah.

Abbas Zaki, a leading Fatah official, told Arab News Palestinian frustration was being fueled by Israel. “They barged into Ramallah in violation of existing agreements and came very close to the home of President Abbas.

“What more do people need to see to let them give up on a process when Israelis are willing to humiliate in such a way the father of Palestinian peace?”

Abbas himself condemned the anti-Israeli attacks but blamed Israeli raids as a potential cause.

“The climate created by the policy of repeated intrusions into the cities, the provocations against the sovereignty of the president and the lack of a horizon for peace are what led to this unacceptable violence that we condemn and reject,” he said.