Turkey detains 6,000 for coup bid, US refutes involvement claim
Ankara, July 17 (IANS) The Turkish government has detained around 6,000 persons over Friday’s failed military coup and Washington rejected Ankara’s claims that it was involved in the failed putsch.
Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that “clean-up operations” are going on and the number of arrests would rise further.
The clean-up included high-ranking soldiers and 2,700 judges. More than 50 senior army officers were detained in the western province of Denizli on Sunday, the BBC reported.
Eight Turkish soldiers were seeking political asylum in Greece, where they flew by a helicopter hours after the failed military coup in Turkey. On Sunday, they denied involvement in the coup, but feared an unfair trial if they were to be extradited to Turkey, Efe news reported.
Three top Turkish commanders who were held hostage by the coup attempters were also saved on July 16, Defence Minister Fikri Isik announced on Saturday.
“Our commander of air staff, naval staff and the second Chief of General Staff were saved from the Akinci base where they were held and are in good condition,” Xinhua news agency quoted Isik as saying.
The commander of gendarmerie forces, General Galip Mendi was also saved later.
In addition, a total of 72 coup plotters were detained during police operation at the Akinci base in the capital Ankara.
The failed coup triggered a spat between Washington and Ankara with the Turkish government claiming the unrest was planned by followers of Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Islamist scholar and dissident. Gülen, who moved to the US in self-exile years ago, has denied the charge, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on the US to extradite him.
Gulen in a statement denied any connection to Friday night’s coup attempt and even suggested the whole thing might have been orchestrated by Erdogan himself.
“As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations,” Gulen is quoted as saying.
In a terse statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Turkey should “present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny. And the US will accept that and look at it and make judgements about it appropriately.”
Turkey’s Labour Minister Suleyman Soylu also suggested that the US was behind the coup.
Justice Minister Bozdag said he was confident that Gülen would be returned by the US. “The US would weaken itself by protecting him, it would harm its reputation. I don’t think that at this hour, the US would protect someone who carried out this act against Turkey.”
In a rare show of unity, Turkey’s political parties united to denounce Friday’s coup attempt.
Erdogan has said that parliament might consider a proposal to re-introduce the death penalty.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Sunday said that July 15 will be marked as “democracy fest” day for Turkey as the attempted military coup was foiled with the cooperation and support of the Turkish people.
The Turkish Parliament would also discuss a number of new measures to prevent future attempts at a military coup in Turkey as legal procedures were launched to heavily punish the plotters, the Hurriyet daily news reported Yildirim as saying at a press conference.
The attempted military coup began last Friday night when a faction of the military took over key bridges in Istanbul and attacked Parliament House buildings in Ankara.
At least 265 people were killed in clashes and more than 1,440 were injured in the clashes. According to Turkish officials 104 plotters were killed.
Thousands of persons heeded Erdogan’s call to rise up against the coup plotters, and by Saturday morning the rebel soldiers began to surrender their positions and tanks.
US President Barack Obama joined other world leaders in calling for all parties in Turkey to “act within the rule of law”.