337 military officers and others have been given life sentences by a court in Turkey, in one of the biggest trials linked to the 2016 coup attempt.
Air force pilots and army commanders were among the nearly 500 defendants accused of trying to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
They allegedly directed the plot from the Akinci air base near Ankara.
President Erdogan says US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen masterminded the plot, which led to mass arrests.
Fethullah Gulen has denied any involvement in the attempted coup in July 2016 that killed 251 people and injured more than 2,000. Presidnet Erdogan was on vacation at the time at a resort.
Thousands of civilians rallied in support of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a night of turmoil, confronting rogue soldiers and preventing the plotters from seizing power.
The trial began in August 2017, and the charges included seeking to kill President Erdogan and seize key state institutions. Turkey’s biggest court – in Sincan near Ankara – was packed for the verdicts.
Officers who conspired against President Erdogan seized aircraft at the Akinci base, taking then chief of staff Gen Hulusi Akar and some other officers hostage.
Former air force commander Akin Ozturk was jailed for life last year for his role in the plot.
The indictment states that 25 pilots in F-16s bombed targets in Ankara, including parliament, which was hit three times, as well as key security buildings. The bombing killed 68 people in Ankara and injured more than 200.
Twenty-five of those in the dock were generals and 10 were civilians.
More than 10 of the military officers – including F-16 fighter pilots – and four civilians got 79 “aggravated” life sentences each. The “aggravated” sentence requires harsher prison terms than for a normal life sentence.
Six were put on trial in absentia, including Fethullah Gulen and Adil Oksuz, a theology lecturer accused of being a key coordinator in the coup plot.
Among those receiving “aggravated” life terms was businessman Kemal Batmaz, accused of assisting Adil Oksuz.
The Hizmet movement led by Fethullah Gulen has been branded a “terrorist” organization by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He was once an ally of the president, but since the coup attempt the 79-year-old cleric has remained a fugitive in Pennsylvania and Turkey wants his extradition.
President Erdogan carried out a sweeping purge of state institutions after the plot, sacking or suspending more than 100,000 public sector employees, including teachers and judges, who were accused of links to Fethullah Gulen.
There have been many trials of alleged plotters and courts have issued more than 2,500 life sentences.
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was reportedly offered $15 million to help forcibly remove Fethullah Gulen from the US and deliver him to Turkey.
Michael Flynn and his son discussed the alleged plot with Turkish representatives, NBC News and Wall Street Journal report.
The matter is said to be under scrutiny in the wider DoJ investigation of alleged Russian election meddling.
Michael Flynn resigned after misleading the White House about meeting an envoy.
The alleged plot to remove the Muslim cleric was first revealed in March 2017 by former CIA Director James Woolsey.
The Turkish government accuses Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, of being behind last year’s failed coup.
Fethullah Gulen is viewed as chief political rival to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly called for his extradition from the US.
According to the Wall Street Journal, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is focusing on a meeting in mid-December between Michael Flynn and Turkish officials in New York.
Michael Flynn reportedly discussed having Fethullah Gulen transported on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali.
He was serving on the White House transition team during the reported meeting, which came a month before he joined the Trump administration.
Michael Flynn also met Turkish representatives in September 2016, according to James Woolsey, a board member for Flynn’s consultancy.
James Woolsey has previously told CNN that in September, “there was at least some strong suggestion by one or more of the Americans present at the meeting that we would be able, the United States would be able, through them, to be able to get hold of Gulen”.
NBC reported that federal investigators are also looking into whether Michael Flynn tried to push for the return of Fethullah Gulen to Turkey during his time as White House national security adviser.
A spokesman for Michael Flynn’s company has denied he discussed any illegal actions with the Turks.
Michael Flynn was the first aide in Donald Trump’s White House to resign, after only 23 days on the job.
The retired lieutenant general had admitted lying to VP Mike Pence about a meeting with the Russian ambassador in which the lifting of US sanctions was discussed.
Michael Flynn also failed to register as a lobbyist for the Turkish government while he was seeking White House security clearance.
In 2016, his consultancy Flynn Intel Group was paid $530,000 for lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government – work which required him to register as “a foreign agent”.
According to his lawyer , Michael Flynn did not register because he was working for a Turkish businessman, rather than a government official.
Investigators are also looking into the actions of his son, Michel Flynn Jr., who worked closely with him at Flynn Intel Group.
According to both publications, Michael Flynn and the meeting participants discussed a way to free Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who is in a US jail over charges that he evaded US sanctions on Iran.
In its statement on October 8, the Turkish embassy in Washington said: “Recent events have forced the Turkish government to reassess the commitment of the government of the US to the security of the Turkish mission facilities and personnel.
“In order to minimize the number of the visitors to our diplomatic and consular missions in the US while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately we have suspended all visa services regarding the US citizens at our diplomatic and consular missions in the US.
“This measure will apply to sticker visas as well as e-visas and border visas.”
The Turkish’s embassy statement is virtually the same as the earlier American one, with only country names being replaced.
The American mission said that “all non-immigrant visa services at all US diplomatic facilities in Turkey” had been suspended.
Non-immigrant visas are issued to those travelling to the US for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study.
Those seeking citizenship or permanent residency apply for US immigrant visas.
Turkey has for months been pressing the US to extradite Fethullah Gulen over his alleged role in the coup attempt in July 2016.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Fethullah Gulen of instigating the unrest – a charge the cleric denies.
In the aftermath of the coup attempt, which was led by military officers, 40,000 people were arrested and 120,000 sacked or suspended.
Kicking off a series of events that will extend into dawn today, PM Binali Yildirim told a special session of parliament that July 15, 2016, was a “second War of Independence”, following the conflict that led to the creation of the modern state in the 1920s.
Image source Wikimedia
“It has been exactly one year since Turkey’s darkest and longest night was transformed into a bright day, since an enemy occupation turned into the people’s legend,” Binali Yildirim said.
However, head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party Kemal Kilicdaroglu condemned the government’s actions since the coup.
He said: “This parliament, which withstood bombs, has been rendered obsolete and its authority removed. In the past year, justice has been destroyed. Instead of rapid normalization, a permanent state of emergency has been implemented.”
Recep Tayyip Erdogan flew from the parliamentary session to Istanbul, in a plane accompanied by air force jets.
The president will join the huge crowds on the bridge over the Bosphorus where civilians had confronted pro-coup soldiers last year. It has been renamed the Bridge of the Martyrs of July 15 and the president will unveil a “martyrs’ memorial” there.
Istanbul is awash with giant anniversary billboards, with anti-coup slogans strung between the minarets of mosques.
President Erdogan will later return to Ankara to address parliament at midnight, the exact time last year it was attacked by coup plotters.
He will unveil a monument to the coup’s victims at his palace in the capital at dawn.
On July 15, 2016, the coup plotters, armed with tanks, warplanes and helicopters, declared that they had taken over on state media, and bombed parliament and other key locations.
The Turkish authorities accused a movement loyal to the Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, of organizing the plot.
Fethullah Gulen, who remains in the United States, denies any involvement.
Washington has so far resisted calls from the Turkish authorities to extradite him.
Critics say President Erdogan is using the purges to stifle political dissent, and last week hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Istanbul at the end of a 450km (280-mile) “justice” march against the government.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the marchers of supporting terrorism.
On July 14, the government continued its dismissal of state employees, sacking another 7,395 for alleged links to what it calls terrorist groups.
At least 30 people have been killed and other 94 injured in a bomb attack at an outdoor wedding party in the south Turkish city of Gaziantep, the authorities say.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said ISIS was likely to have carried it out amid reports of a suicide bomber targeting the party.
The bomb attack, in an area popular with university students, could be heard across the city.
Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, is known to have several ISIS cells.
A suicide bomber believed to have links to ISIS killed two policemen in Gaziantep in May.
According to a report by AFP news agency, the bomb went off in a part of town with a large Kurdish community and there seem to have been many Kurds at the wedding.
In a written statement published by local media, President Erdogan argued there was “no difference” between ISIS, the Kurdish militants of the PKK, and followers of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he blames for the coup attempt last month.
“Our country and our nation have again only one message to those who attack us – you will not succeed!” the president said.
On August 20, Turkey’s government said the country would take a more active role in efforts to end the war in Syria.
PM Binali Yildirim said a future political settlement for Syria must not include President Bashar al-Assad, ISIS or Turkey’s own Kurdish separatist rebels, the PKK.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has met his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for the first time since the July 15 attempted coup.
Russia is ready to restore economic co-operation and other ties with Turkey, President Vladimir Putin has announced in St. Petersburg.
It is also President Erdogan’s first foreign visit since an attempted coup last month.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan thanked Vladimir Putin, saying “your call straight after the coup attempt was very welcome”.
Russian-Turkish relations soured last November when Turkey shot down a Russian bomber on the Syrian border.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit comes as Turkey’s ties with the West have cooled over criticism of the purge of alleged coup-plotters.
Before leaving Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to Vladimir Putin as his “friend” and said he wanted to open a new page in relations with Russia.
“This visit strikes me as a new milestone in our bilateral relations, starting again from a clean slate,” he told Russia’s Tass news agency.
Vladimir Putin said their talks would cover “the whole range of our relations… including restoring economic ties, combating terrorism”.
After Turkey shot down the Su-24 jet Russia imposed trade sanctions and suspended Russian package tours to Turkey.
In June, the Kremlin said Recep Tayyip Erdogan had apologized for the downing of the jet and had sent a message expressing “sympathy and deep condolences” to the family of the dead pilot.
Then, after the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, Vladimir Putin expressed support for Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He did not criticize President Erdogan’s crackdown on political opponents and purge of alleged “plotters” in state institutions.
Turkey’s ties with its NATO allies – especially the US – have been strained by disagreements over the Syrian civil war. Turkey’s priority is to weaken the Kurdish separatist forces, while the US is focusing on destroying ISIS.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was angered by criticism from the EU and the US of the mass detentions of suspected plotters. He demanded that the US extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of organizing the coup. But the United States says Turkey must provide solid evidence before such a move can be considered.
Turkey’s Justice Minister, Bekir Bozdag, says more than 26,000 people have been detained after the attempted coup.
They back opposing sides in Syria. Turkey is furious at the scale of Russian air support for Syrian government forces, as Recep Tayyip Erdogan reviles Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia has accused Turkey of backing Islamist anti-Assad groups, including some accused of “terrorism” in Russia.
Turkey is at war with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the PKK’s Syrian allies. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Russia of arming the PKK.
For centuries Russia and Turkey have been rivals for influence in the Caucasus and Black Sea region.
Turkey was also angered by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, accusing Moscow of violating the rights of Crimean Tatars. The Muslim Tatars have long had close ties to Turkey.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would approve the return of the death penalty if it was backed by parliament and the public, he said during a huge rally in Istanbul.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was speaking to a crowd of at least a million who had gathered in Istanbul, Turkey’s biggest city.
The rally followed last month’s failed military coup.
President Erdogan also said the state would be cleansed of all supporters of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Fethullah Gulen is blamed by the Turkish government for the attempted uprising. He denies any involvement.
Religious figures and leaders of two of Turkey’s three opposition parties attended the rally. The Kurdish party was not invited.
More than 270 people died in events surrounding the July 15 coup attempt, which triggered a government crackdown.
Thousands of alleged supporters of Fethullah Gulen have been detained or dismissed from government jobs.
Western nations have been critical of the government’s response to the coup. The EU – which Turkey has applied to join – refuses to accept capital punishment in member states.
The parade ground, built to hold more than a million people, was overflowing, with streets of surrounding neighborhoods clogged by crowds, Reuters news agency reports.
According to government sources, five million people had attended, with the event broadcast live on public screens at smaller rallies across Turkey’s provinces.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the rally: “It is the Turkish parliament that will decide on the death penalty… I declare it in advance, I will approve the decision made by the parliament.
“They say there is no death penalty in the EU… Well, the US has it; Japan has it; China has it; most of the world has it. So they are allowed to have it. We used to have it until 1984. Sovereignty belongs to the people, so if the people make this decision I am sure the political parties will comply.”
He then railed against Fethullah Gulen’s movement, hinting of further hard-line measures to come: “July 15 showed our friends that this country isn’t just strong against political, economic and diplomatic attacks, but against military sabotage as well. It showed that it will not fall, it will not be derailed.
“Of course we have to uncover all members of this organization and eradicate them within the framework of the law, but if we content ourselves with just that, then we as a state and a nation will leave weak our defense against similar viruses.”
The “Democracy and Martyrs’ Rally” was the climax of three weeks of nightly demonstrations by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s supporters around the country.
Speaking ahead of President Erdogan, PM Binali Yildirim told the rally that Fethullah Gulen would be brought to Turkey and made to pay the price for the coup attempt.
“Let all of you know, the leader of this terrorist group will come to Turkey and pay for what he did,” Binali Yildirim said.
In a rare address to a public rally, the head of Turkey’s armed forces, Hulusi Akar, said “traitors” would be punished in the harshest way, and thanked civilians for their role in defeating the uprising.
The crackdown in Turkey has seen tens of thousands of public sector workers suspended or dismissed, with many having their passports cancelled. There has also been a massive reshuffle of the military.
About 18,000 people have been detained or arrested.
Local branches of the AK Party have been told to begin a purge of suspected Gulenists in their ranks.
Fethullah Gulen was a close ally of Recep Tayyip Erdogan until a bitter split between his movement and the party of the president three years ago.
Turkey has listed Fethullah Gulen’s movement as a terrorist organization.
All but one of the soldiers who are accused of trying to seize Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during last month’s failed coup have been captured.
Special forces arrested another 11 soldiers overnight after a two-week manhunt near Marmaris.
President Erdogan was on holiday at the south-western resort on the night of the coup, but fled before his hotel was raided.
Special forces located the fugitives in a forested area, reports say.
Since the failed putsch Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cracked down on those suspected of being linked to the coup.
Tens of thousands of people have been detained or dismissed or suspended from roles in the military, judiciary, civil service and education.
Over the weekend the president announced a sweeping reform of Turkey’s armed forces to bring them under full civilian control.
Turkish authorities accuse US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of being behind the coup attempt, something he denies.
The rebel soldiers were spotted by villagers hunting boar in the forested area near Marmaris. Gunfire was exchanged during the operation but no casualties were reported.
The soldiers arrested in total last night include Major Sukru Seymen, the alleged commander, according to Anadolu news agency.
More than 20 other members of the military squad suspected of involvement had already been remanded in custody to face trial, the agency reports.
During the attempted coup on July 15 Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke live on TV via his mobile phone. He said he had narrowly escaped an attempt on his life.
According to official reports, the president’s security team was tipped off that a squad of soldiers was heading to his hotel and moved him.
Meanwhile, Turkey has summoned Germany’s charge d’affaires to the foreign ministry in Ankara to explain why President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was prevented from addressing a rally in Cologne via a video-link on July 31.
At least 30,000 rallied in Cologne in support of the Turkish president.
The German authorities said such messages could stoke political tensions among the three million ethnic Turks living in Germany.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced he will put the spy agency and the military chief of staff under his own control.
He also said he wants to close the nation’s military academies.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the proposals would be brought before parliament.
The new measures are the latest in a large-scale crackdown launched after the failed coup on July 15.
Turkish authorities say US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen was behind the army-led coup in which at least 246 people died. He denies the allegation.
President Recep Erdogan told Turkey’s A Haber television on July 30: “We are going to introduce a small constitutional package which, if approved, will bring the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and chief of staff under the control of the presidency.”
“Military schools will be shut down… we will establish a national defense university,” he added.
President Erdogan said that the size of the gendarmerie would be cut, but its weaponry would be increased.
The president needs a two-thirds majority for the proposals to be adopted and therefore will have to secure support from opposition parties.
Turkey announced a military reshuffle on July 28, including the dishonorable discharge of 1,700 military servicemen. About 40% of generals and admirals have been discharged since the coup.
More than 66,000 public sector workers have been dismissed from their posts and 50,000 passports cancelled, while the labor ministry is investigating 1,300 of its staff.
The government has shut 142 media outlets and detained several journalists.
A three-month state of emergency has also been declared across Turkey.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced he is withdrawing all lawsuits against people charged with insulting him.
He said he was inspired by the feelings of unity in the wake of the recent failed coup.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan also stepped up his attacks on nations criticizing his crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt, telling them to “mind your own business”.
The president earlier blasted General Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command, saying he was “on the side of the coup plotters”.
Gen. Joseph Votel had said in remarks on July 28 that the jailing of some military leaders could damage Turkish-American military co-operation.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the presidential palace: “I am going to withdraw all the cases regarding the disrespectful insults made against me.”
He said it was a one-off gesture of goodwill.
Earlier this year, Turkish authorities said some 2,000 people were facing such prosecutions.
Recep Erdogan was also defiant in the face of criticism over his crackdown, which the interior ministry said on July 29 had seen 18,000 detentions.
He said: “Some people give us advice. They say they are worried. Mind your own business! Look at your own deeds.
“Not a single person has come to give condolences either from the European Union… or from the West… Those countries or leaders who are not worried about Turkey’s democracy, the lives of our people, its future – while being so worried about the fate of the putschists – cannot be our friends.”
Speaking at the same event, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey had now succeeded in removing all elements linked to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen from the military.
Turkey blames Fethullah Gulen for orchestrating the coup attempt, something he denies.
On July 29, President Recep Erdogan had told Gen. Joseph Votel to “know your place”, adding: “You are taking the side of coup plotters instead of thanking this state for defeating the coup attempt.”
Gen. Joseph Votel had said one day before: “We have certainly had relationships with a lot of Turkish leaders – military leaders in particular. I am concerned about what the impact is on those relationships as we continue.”
The next day, replying after President Recep Erdogan’s comments, Gen. Joseph Votel said any reports that he was involved in the coup were “unfortunate and completely inaccurate”.
Gen. Joseph Votel added that Turkey had been an “extraordinary and vital partner” for many years and he was looking forward to their partnership in the fight against self-styled Islamic State.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had also said on July 28 that Turkey’s crackdown was disrupting Turkish-American military co-operation in fighting ISIS.
Turkey announced a military reshuffle on July 28, including the dishonorable discharge of 1,700 military servicemen. About 40% of generals and admirals have been discharged since the coup.
More than 66,000 Turkish public sector workers have been dismissed from their posts and 50,000 passports cancelled, while the labor ministry is investigating 1,300 of its staff.
Turkey has also shut 142 media outlets and detained several journalists.
Turkey’s presidential guard regiment will be dissolved after nearly 300 of its members were detained following last week’s attempted coup.
PM Binali Yildirim told A Haber TV channel that there was “no need” for the regiment.
Earlier, Turkey detained Muhammet Sait Gulen – a nephew of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who, it says, was behind the uprising.
Fethullah Gulen strongly denies the claim.
A key aide of Fethullah Gulen has also been arrested, a presidency official said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a widespread crackdown following the attempted coup, arresting thousands of service personnel and sacking or suspending thousands of government officials, school teachers and university heads.
A state of emergency was declared on July 21, allowing the president and cabinet to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms.
PM Binali Yildirim told the A Haber TV channel: “There will no longer be a presidential guard, there is no purpose, there is no need.”
The presidential guard numbers up to 2,500 soldiers but at least 283 were detained after the uprising.
Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has called on the US government to block Turkey’s attempts to extradite him.
Muhammet Sait Gulen was detained in the north-eastern city of Erzurum to be taken to the capital Ankara for questioning, the Anadolu news agency says.
A presidential official quoted by Reuters said Halis Hanci, described as Fethullah Gulen’s right-hand man, had been “captured”.
According to the official, Halis Hanci had apparently entered Turkey two days before the coup attempt.
On July 23, Recep Erdogan extended the period in which suspects can be detained without charge to 30 days.
A statement carried by state media also ordered the closure of more than 1,000 private schools and more than 1,200 associations.
Also on July 23, Ankara’s chief prosecutor Harun Kodalak was reported by Turkish media as saying that 1,200 soldiers detained in the wake of the coup had been released.
Those freed were said to be low-ranking soldiers. Thousands of other service personnel, including more than 100 generals and admirals, remain in detention.
Recep Erdogan’s tough measures have been criticized by human rights groups, as well as by France, Germany and senior EU officials.
He told France 24 television on July 23 the EU was “biased and prejudiced” against Turkey.
Amnesty International has said Recep Tayyip Erdogan is going “well beyond what might be considered a legitimate response to the coup attempt”.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency for three months following the failed army coup in Turkey.
The state of emergency allows the president and cabinet to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms.
Speaking at the presidential palace in Ankara, President Erdogan vowed that “all the viruses within the armed forces will be cleansed”.
Thousands of people have been arrested or sacked since the failed coup.
More than 600 schools have also been closed and thousands of state workers sacked in a crackdown by the president.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after announcing the state of emergency: “This measure is in no way against democracy, the law and freedoms.”
The government will be allowed to rule by decree, with the powers of regional governors increased.
A re-organization of the police, intelligence services and the command structure of the armed forces is also expected.
Critics of President Erdogan have accused him of consolidating power on a scale largely unprecedented since Turkey’s first democratic elections in 1946 and of using the emergency to acquire more power for the presidency.
They say the president normally would need to alter the constitution to create an executive presidency and win back some of the powers he relinquished when his tenure as prime minister ended in 2014.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised those who were killed fighting against the coup as “martyrs”. Some 246 people were killed resisting the attempted coup, according to the government.
He was speaking after holding meetings of Turkey’s national security council and the cabinet in the capital.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier responded to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s speech by urging the Turkish government to maintain both the rule of law and a sense of proportionality in its response to the coup attempt.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed the coup attempt on US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally whose followers run a worldwide network of schools.
He has called for Fethullah Gulen to be extradited to Turkey, but Secretary of State John Kerry said on July 20 that Turkey must provide hard evidence the cleric was behind the coup attempt for any extradition to take place.
Earlier, Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of further arrests and suspensions to come as Turkish authorities continued to pursue those they believed responsible for the thwarted putsch.
Over 50,000 people have been detained, fired or suspended from their jobs by Turkey’s government in the wake of last week’s failed coup.
The purge of those deemed disloyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan widened on July 19 to include teachers, university deans and the media.
According to the government, they are allied to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who denies claims he directed the uprising.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Fethullah Gulen led a “terrorist organization”.
“We will dig them up by their roots,” the prime minister told parliament.
Turkey is pressing the US to extradite Fethullah Gulen and the issue was raised during a phone call between President Barack Obama and President Erdogan on July 19, the White House said.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said a decision on whether or not to extradite would be made under a treaty between the two countries.
A Turkish government spokesman suggested that the US should be able to extradite Fethullah Gulen “on grounds of suspicion” rather than requiring facts of the case against him.
“There is very strong suspicion for his [Fethullah Gulen’s] involvement in this coup attempt. So this is sufficient grounds,” said spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.
For his part, the preacher says claims he was behind the coup attempt are “ridiculous”.
“I urge the US government to reject any effort to abuse the extradition process to carry out political vendettas,” Fethullah Gulen said in a statement.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to chair meetings of his national security council and cabinet in the capital, Ankara, on July 20, after returning to the city for the first time since the attempted coup.
The meeting will be Erdogan’s first chance since the coup attempt to sit and talk in person with all key members of the government and armed forces.
His task is to re-impose stability amid the turmoil and to reassure the country and Turkey’s allies abroad that he is not embarking on a witch-hunt against his many critics.
The Pentagon said that talks also took place on July 19 between Defense Secretary Ash Carter and his Turkish counterpart, regarding the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey.
The base is used by the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Meanwhile, the Turkish government crackdown widened on July 19 to include the education sector and government departments.
According to Turkish media,15,200 teachers and other education staff had been sacked; 1,577 university deans were ordered to resign; 8,777 interior ministry workers were dismissed; 1,500 staff in the finance ministry had been fired; 257 people working in the prime minister’s office were sacked.
Turkish media regulation body also revoked the licenses of 24 radio and TV channels accused of links to Fethullah Gulen.
The news came on top of the arrests of more than 6,000 military personal and the sackings of nearly 9,000 police officers. About 3,000 judges have also been suspended.
The removal of thousands of officials has alarmed international observers, with the UN urging Turkey to uphold the rule of law and defend human rights.
A senior German official said on July 19 that “a deep split” had opened in Turkey, and he feared the divisions would cause unrest among Germany’s large Turkish community.
“The danger of an escalation in violence between Erdogan supporters and opponents has also risen in Germany,” Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.
President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz has accused Turkey of carrying out “revenge” against its opponents and critics.
He also said a debate around restoring the death penalty was “deeply worrying”. The EU has warned such a move would end talks over Turkey joining the bloc.
According to official figures, last week’s coup attempt left 232 people dead and 1,541 wounded.
EU officials have sharply criticized a mass arrest of media representatives in Turkey.
Foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and the commissioner heading EU enlargement talks said the arrests went “against European values”.
At least 24 people were arrested in police raids on leading newspaper Zaman and Samanyolu TV station said to have close links with opposition parties.
Those detained are accused of trying to seize control of the state.
The Zaman newspaper and Samanyolu TV channel both have ties to US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, the spiritual leader of the Hizmet movement.
A former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Fethullah Gulen – who lives in self-imposed exile – is accused of running a “parallel state” within Turkey.
In a statement, Federica Mogherini and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said any move towards EU membership depended on “full respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights”.
The raids and arrests “are incompatible with the freedom of media, which is a core principle of democracy,” the pair said in a statement.
“We expect that the principle of presumption of innocence will prevail and recall the inalienable right for an independent and transparent investigation.”
The raids come days after Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged a fresh campaign against Fethullah Gulen’s supporters.
Journalists, producers, scriptwriters and an eastern Turkey police chief were all arrested, among them the editor-in-chief of Zaman newspaper and the chairman of Samanyolu TV.
Staff at Zaman reported on the incident as police mounted a Sunday morning raid on their offices.
Staff and supporters held placards and chanted “free press cannot be silenced” as police raided the building.
Editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanli smiled and studied police documents before being led through the newspaper’s headquarters to applause from staff crowded onto balconies.
“Let those who have committed a crime be scared. We are not scared,” Ekrem Dumanli said as he was led into a waiting police car, according to Reuters.
The chairman of Samanyolu TV, which also has links to Fethullah Gulen, was detained in a separate raid in Istanbul.
Hidayet Karaca told reporters the operation was “a disgrace for Turkey” before his arrest.
“Sadly in 21st Century Turkey this is the treatment they dish out to a media group with tens of television and radio stations, internet media and magazines,” the English edition of Zaman quoted him as saying.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, called the raids “a coup”.
Staff at Zaman had been expecting the raid after details of the swoop were leaked by a Twitter user known as Fuat Avni, who has previously leaked advance details of police operations.
Turkey’s PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan will run for president in the first direct election in August, his governing AK Party has confirmed.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been prime minister since 2003 but is barred from seeking a new term.
In the midst of corruption allegations, critics say Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become more authoritarian, but he says political foes are trying to oust him.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to give new powers to the president, which has been a largely ceremonial role.
In the past, the incumbent has been chosen by parliament.
For the first time Turks will vote directly for their president in a two-round election in August.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan will run for president in Turkey’s first direct election in August
In April, incumbent President Abdullah Gul ruled out swapping roles with his ally, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when his presidential term ends.
The AKP has won six consecutive elections, at national and local level, maintaining a solid base of support among the working class.
Tuesday’s announcement was greeted with loud applause by party members at a meeting in the capital, Ankara.
“The candidate for the 12th president is our prime minister, head of our party and Istanbul lawmaker Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” Mehmet Ali Sahin, deputy AKP leader, announced.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s opponents accuse him of losing touch with ordinary people after more than a decade in power.
A wave of opponents rose up in May 2013 against the government’s plans to convert Gezi Park in Istanbul into a replica military barracks. The prime minister called the demonstrators “capulcu”(riff-raff) – and ordered the police to retake the park.
Last December, prosecutors and police officers organized dawn raids against more than 50 businessmen, including the sons of three cabinet ministers – all allies of the prime minister.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the park protests and the raids were each orchestrated from abroad – a reference to the Gulen movement, named after its leader, a 72-year-old Islamic scholar, Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the US.
Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet movement was unhappy with the way Recep Tayyip Erdogan dealt with the Gezi Park protesters.
In April, Turkey said it would launch extradition proceedings against Fethullah Gulen.
Fethullah Gulen has many supporters in the police and judiciary, and has denounced moves to shut down the investigation into corruption allegations leveled against several of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s allies.
The Turkish parliament has passed a bill to shut down private preparatory schools, many of which are run by influential preacher Fethullah Gulen.
Fethullah Gulen is embroiled in a bitter feud with PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has accused the US-based cleric of plotting against his government.
The schools are a major source of income for Fethullah Gulen’s 50-year-old Hizmet (“Service”) movement.
The law says the schools must close by September 1, 2015, local media reported.
Millions of students attend Fethullah Gulen’s preparatory schools in Turkey
Millions of students attend the schools to prepare themselves for entrance examinations to win limited spots at state secondary schools and universities.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that abolishing the preparatory schools is part of a reform of an “unhealthy” educational system that ranks Turkey below most other developed countries in literacy, maths and science.
Until recently, Hizmet has generally avoided overt involvement in politics and Fethullah Gulen still denies he meddles.
Tensions between former allies Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fethullah Gulen were exacerbated in 2013, when thousands of alleged Hizmet sympathizers in the police and judiciary were demoted while prosecutors with alleged links to the movement aggressively pursued investigations against allies of the prime minister.
Turkish pro-government media have claimed a group of anti-government prosecutors have illegally wiretapped thousands of prominent figures.
Targets reportedly included government ministers and business leaders.
The prosecutors, who are said to be loyal to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, have denied the accusations.
Fethullah Gulen has been accused of running a “parallel state” in Turkey, controlling groups of police, lawyers and politicians. He denies the claims.
The latest allegations came in two pro-government newspapers, Yeni Safak and Star.
Fethullah Gulen has been accused of running a “parallel state” in Turkey, controlling groups of police, lawyers and politicians
The Star reported that “Gulenists” had wiretapped more than 7,000 people since 2011 on the pretext of trying to uncover terrorism plots.
One of the prosecutors named in the stories, Adem Ozcan, denied the allegations.
“There was definitely no monitoring or phone-tapping of thousands of politicians, writers, NGO representatives and businessmen in the framework of this dossier in the way that the newspaper stories say,” he said in a statement.
Fethullah Gulen has denied using his influence to start investigations into allegations of government corruption.
PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Fethullah Gulen, a one-time ally who lives in self-imposed exile in the US, of trying to attack the government.
Four ministers have resigned in the aftermath of the corruption inquiries.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to fight on, in what is seen as the biggest challenge to his government in his 11 years in office.
About 350 police officers have been sacked in Turkey’s capital Ankara, following a corruption probe targeting people close to the government, reports say.
Officials, mostly from outside the city, have been named to replace them.
Hundreds of police have been dismissed or reassigned across Turkey since last month’s corruption investigation. Three cabinet ministers resigned after their sons were detained in the raids.
PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the police and judiciary of a “dirty plot”.
The arrests were carried out as part of an inquiry into alleged bribery involving public tenders, which included controversial building projects in Istanbul.
Hundreds of police have been dismissed or reassigned across Turkey since last month’s corruption investigation
Those detained in the December 17 raids included more than 50 public officials and businessmen – all allies of the prime minister.
The latest round of police sackings and reassignments were carried out under a government decree published at midnight.
Those removed from their posts include chiefs of the financial crimes, anti-smuggling and organized crime units, the private Dogan News Agency reported.
The move comes as the government is trying to contain the fall-out from the corruption inquiry.
Many believe the arrests and firings reflect a feud within Turkey’s ruling AK Party between those who back Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, an influential Islamic scholar living in self-imposed exile in the US.
Members of Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet movement are said to hold influential positions in institutions such as the police, the judiciary and the AK Party itself.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he would not allow “political plotting”.
Turkey’s PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced a corruption inquiry as a “dirty operation” against his government.
Some 52 people – including three sons of cabinet ministers – were arrested in dawn raids on Tuesday in connection with a high-profile bribery inquiry.
Five police chiefs who oversaw raids in Istanbul and Ankara were sacked for “abuse of office”, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
“We will not allow political plotting,” he said.
However, the deputy prime minister promised not to stand in the way of the judicial process.
“We will always respect any decision made by the judiciary and will not engage in any effort to block this process,” Bulent Arinc said.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has denounced the corruption inquiry as a “dirty operation” against his government
Commentators in Turkey believe the arrests – and subsequent firings – are evidence of a new dramatic fault-line in Turkish politics, one within the AK Party itself.
The feud is believed to involve supporters of Fethullah Gulen, an influential Islamic scholar living in exile in the US who once backed the ruling AK Party, helping it to victory in three elections since 2002.
Members of Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet movement are said to hold influential positions in institutions from the police and secret services to the judiciary and the AK Party itself.
In recent months, the alliance began to come apart and in November the government discussed closing down private schools, including those run by Hizmet.
Fethullah Gulen has been living in the US since 1999, when he was accused in Turkey of plotting against the secular state.
The five police commissioners sacked include the heads of the financial crime and organized crime units, who were both involved in the earlier arrests, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reports.
Also dismissed were the heads of the smuggling unit, the anti-terrorism branch and the public security branch, the paper says.
In a brief statement, the police said they had reassigned some staff, in some cases due to alleged misconduct and others “out of administrative necessity”.
The mass arrests were carried out as part of an inquiry into alleged bribery involving public tenders.
The sons of Interior Minister Muammer Guler, Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan and Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar were among those detained.
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