Turkey Widens Post-Coup Purge

Turkey Widens Post-Coup PurgeTurkey Widens Post-Coup Purge

Turkey purged its police on Monday after rounding up thousands of soldiers in the wake of a failed military coup.

Nearly 20,000 members of the police, civil service, judiciary and army have been detained or suspended since Friday night’s coup, in which more than 200 people were killed when a faction of the armed forces tried to seize power, Reuters reported.

The broad crackdown and calls to reinstate the death penalty for plotters drew concern from western allies who said Ankara must uphold the rule of law in the country, a NATO member whose cooperation in the fight against the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group is crucial to Washington.

Some voiced concern Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was using the opportunity to consolidate his power and further a process of stifling dissent that has already caused tensions with Europe.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said criticism of the government’s response amounted to backing the bid to overthrow it.

A senior security official said 8,000 police officers, including in the capital Ankara and the biggest city Istanbul, had been removed from their posts on suspicion of links to Friday’s abortive coup.

About 1,500 finance ministry officials had been suspended, a ministry official said, and CNN Turk said 30 governors and more than 50 high-ranking civil servants had been dismissed. Annual leave was suspended for more than 3 million civil servants, while close to 3,000 judges and prosecutors have been suspended.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said 7,543 people had so far been detained, including 6,038 soldiers. Some were shown in photographs stripped to their underpants and handcuffed on the floors of police buses and a sports hall. A court remanded 26 generals and admirals in custody on Monday, Turkish media said.

Officials in Ankara say former air force chief, Akin Ozturk, was a co-leader of the coup. The state-run Anadolu agency said on Monday he had confessed, but private broadcaster Haberturk contradicted this, saying he had told prosecutors he tried to prevent the attempted putsch.

The Turkish government says it was masterminded by Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric based in the United States who has a wide following in Turkey. He denies any involvement.