Police in Turkey arrested 1,000 people across 72 provinces on April 26 as part of a government crackdown on an alleged secret structure within the country’s police force.
The authorities said another 2,200 people were being sought in relation to the investigation into a movement loyal to US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. Ankara claims it was the Gulenists who mounted the July 2016 plot to bring down President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and alleges that they had been trying to run a state within the state. The failed coup cost 249 lives.
"1,009 covert 'imams' in 72 provinces have been taken into custody so far," the BBC said Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu had been reported as saying, adding that the minister claimed the police operation was an important step for Turkey.
The operation came just a day after Erdogan said in an interview that Ankara does not recognise the decision by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to place Turkey back on a human rights watch list after 13 years. PACE has raised “serious concerns” about respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Turkey and wants them “addressed in a satisfactory manner”.
Detention warrants have been issued for more than 3,200 suspects, according to local media reports, meaning the operation amounts to the largest purge against the Gulenists since Erdogan claimed victory in the narrowly contested April 16 referendum on introducing an executive presidency with sweeping powers.
Two days after the referendum, the government extended the state of emergency that was imposed after the botched putsch by three months.
The government says it is cleansing key state institutions of supporters of Gulen because they pose a threat to the country’s security.
Since the coup attempt, a total of 47,000 people have been detained, including 10,700 police and 74,000 members of the military. Additionally, thousands of people have lost their jobs across Turkey's public institutions, including teachers and civil servants. Scores of opposition media outlets have been closed down.
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