Turkish authorities moved to widen their purge of perceived opponents by removing thousands of police officers from their posts, part of the crackdown that followed a failed military coup that was aimed at toppling the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Interior Ministry fired nearly 9,000 police officers. That followed the arrests of 7,500 military personnel and 103 generals and admirals, and the suspension of nearly 3,000 judges.
Also, Mr. Erdogan extended an order for jets to patrol the airspace over Istanbul and Ankara, and banned military helicopters from taking off in Istanbul.
Concern over undemocratic means adopted by Mr. Erdogan
The magnitude of the purges has raised concerns among Turkey’s Western allies that Mr. Erdogan is abandoning the rule of law and using the coup attempt as a pretext to cleanse the country’s institutions of his enemies.
Blame for coup according to Mr. Erdogan
Mr. Erdogan has pointed the finger at his former ally-turned-rival Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who has been in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999 and who is known to have a vast following in the police and judiciary. Western diplomats said on Monday that Turkey’s response to the coup attempt suggested that the government had prepared lists of those they believed to be linked to Gulen’s followers, before the unrest.
Vie of Gulen supporters
A senior Turkish official said that members of the Gulen movement in the military had been under investigation for some time, and that the group had acted out of a sense of emergency when they realised that they might face prosecution.
Turkish officials have acknowledged that the number of purges in the country is excessive, but they say that it is necessary to prevent another wave of attacks against civilians and government buildings.