Turkey detains more than 700 over alleged links to coup bid

Soldiers involved in the 2016 coup surrender on a bridge over the Bosphorus. (Getty Images)
Updated 12 February 2019

Turkey detains more than 700 over alleged links to coup bid

  • Officials had sent to authorities in 75 provinces the names of 1,112 people under investigation over suspected ties to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen and his movement
  • The Ankara public prosecutor’s office, which leads the coup investigation, said 130 people on the list of suspects were deputy police chiefs still on active duty

ANKARA: Turkish authorities detained 729 people in nationwide raids Tuesday over alleged links to a group blamed for a failed coup in 2016, the Ankara public prosecutor’s office said.
Officials had sent to authorities in 75 provinces the names of 1,112 people under investigation over suspected ties to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen and his movement, it said.
Gulen is accused of ordering the attempted putsch, a claim he strongly denies.
Forty-five of those arrested were in the capital Ankara, a judicial source, who did not wish to be named, told AFP.
“We do not know whether the provincial authorities detained or summoned all of the individuals whose names were given,” the source added.
The Ankara public prosecutor’s office, which leads the coup investigation, said 130 people on the list of suspects were deputy police chiefs still on active duty.
They are suspected of having obtained questions before sitting the 2010 exam to become inspectors, it added in a statement.
Turkish officials defend the crackdown by pointing to what it describes as the Gulen group’s “virus”-like infiltration of key institutions, including the police.
Members of the movement are accused of cheating on entry exams to gain access to important public bodies.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Sunday that authorities “were planning a big operation” against the movement.
“Devils wouldn’t even conduct the tricks that they did,” Soylu said, adding that Turkey would “finish them off in this country.”
There have been regular raids across Turkey in recent weeks against alleged members of the movement, despite criticism from human rights defenders and Ankara’s Western allies over the scale of the crackdown.
Tens of thousands of people have been taken into custody over suspected links to Gulen since 2016 while over 100,000 — including teachers, police officers, and judges — have been sacked or suspended from the public sector.
Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said last month that 31,088 people have been convicted or jailed over suspected Gulen links.


Family backs Tlaib’s decision not to visit Israel

Updated 18 August 2019

Family backs Tlaib’s decision not to visit Israel

  • Israel said a humanitarian travel request by Tlaib would be considered as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel

RAMALLAH: Relatives of a US congresswoman say they support her decision to decline Israel’s offer allowing her to visit them in the West Bank because the “right to travel should be provided to all without any conditions.”

Rashida Tlaib said she would not see her family, even after Israel lifted a ban on her entry, because the government had imposed restrictions on her trip.

“We totally understand her position and support her in her efforts. The right to travel should be provided to all without any conditions,” her uncle Bassam Tlaib told Arab News.

He was speaking from the family home in Beit Ur Al-Fuka, which is 3 km from the West Bank city of Ramallah, and was flanked by his elderly mother.

He said his niece had visited them many times in the past, but there had never been any conditions attached to her travel.

“She said we will meet when she can come without conditions,” Tlaib said. “One idea has been floated of flying the grandmother to the US or finding a way to have the two meetings in a third country. You know my mother is nearing 90 and it is not easy for her to travel but we are checking out all options.”

Tlaib, a Democrat, has criticized Israel’s policy toward Palestinians and had planned to make an official visit to the country.

Israel said a humanitarian travel request by Tlaib would be considered as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel, local media reported.

But the congresswoman, who is Palestinian-American, lashed out on social media.

“I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies,” she tweeted, using the word sity to refer to her grandmother. “Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”

The NGO hosting and organizing the trip, Miftah, has been criticized by supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Hanan Ashrawi, the NGO’s founder, said her staff had organized other congressional trips. “This was the third trip we have organized, and we try to do our work professionally and seriously,” Ashrawi told Arab News. “Our very mission is to promote global dialogue and democracy.”

Ashrawi said the attacks on Miftah were unwarranted.  “Miftah has been targeted with the expressed goal of trying to discredit us even though our record is clear. We believe that they are trying to keep organizing congressional delegations within the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) monopoly, while we are trying to provide visitors with an opportunity to learn about Palestinian life under occupation and to understand the Palestinian narrative by providing opportunities for delegations to see and engage with Palestinians of all walks of life.” 

Ashrawi said Miftah had been “vetted” by the US Congress’ ethics committee. “We might not be able to bring hundreds of congress people like AIPAC, but we can bring a few and have them see, hear and interact with Palestinians.”

US President Donald Trump had called on Israel not to allow Tlaib and fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar into Israel as admitting the two “would show great weakness.”

He tweeted that the pair “hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace.”