The Turkish government suspended on July 18 nearly 8,000 police officers and another 1,500 employees at the finance ministry on suspicion of having links to the failed coup attempt and links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, in a sign that the crackdown is widening. In the first wave of the purges, more than 7,000 people, including soldiers, military officers, generals, judges and prosecutors were already detained in the wake of the coup. The government has also suspended the annual leave of more than three million civil servants nationwide until further notice, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
Akin Okturk, the former chief of the Air Force, who the government claims is the mastermind behind the coup, and 25 generals were arrested on July 18, after being interrogated. Ozturk denies the charges. The attempt to topple the government failed after a faction within the army that staged the coup failed to secure the support of the public and the majority of the military.
Anti-government groups did not come out to the streets to back the coup, but on the contrary supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took to the streets in protest after the president urged them to counter the coup attempt. Erdogan supporters and the 200,000 plus strong police force that remained loyal to Erdogan, managed to avert the coup attempt. Some 208 people were killed and nearly 1,500 wounded, PM Binali Yildirim said on July 18. Erdogan is urging his supporters to remain vigilant and to stay in the streets at least for a week. Thousands of people gather each night in city squares across the country.
Meanwhile, Erdogan told CNN that he would reinstall the death penalty if people demand it and the parliament approves the necessary legislation. Turkey abolished the capital punishment in 2004 as part of its EU bid. Reinstating the death penalty, however, will endanger Turkey's EU aspirations, EU officials warn. Countries that allow the death penalty cannot join the bloc, EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on July 18. Turkey’s foreign ministry said criticism about the legal actions taken against plotters amounts to support for the failed coup attempt.
Erdogan also said the government would announce an important decision on July 20 following the cabinet and national security committee meetings. He did not provide details. The President also vowed to revive plans to redevelop Istanbul’s Gezi Park that triggered mass anti-government protests back in 2013.
Wikileaks said it would release thousands of documents on Turkey’s political power structure on July 19. “AKP supporters should pay attention. Our pending megaleak of docs both helps & harms AKP”, Wikileaks tweeted on July 18. It will release 300,000 internal emails from Erdogan’s AKP through to July 2016, it said. The group announced that its infrastructure in under sustained attack. “We are unsure of the true origin of the attack. The timing suggests a Turkish state power faction or its allies. We will prevail & publish”, it said. Erdogan supporters will likely shrug off Wikileak documents as they did the corruption allegations back in 2013.