Istanbul police raid courts for coup suspects

The operations are part of the government’s investigation into the movement led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, which Ankara alleges was responsible for the violent coup attempt that killed more than 270 people.

Powered by automated translation

Istanbul // Police teams on Monday apprehended 136 people in operations conducted at three Istanbul courthouses as part of an investigation into the July 15 attempted coup.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said the Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office had issued detention orders for 173 personnel working at Istanbul’s Caglayan, Bakirkoy and Gaziosmanpasa courthouses. Of those, 136 were detained in Monday’s raids.

The operations are part of the government’s investigation into the movement led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Ankara alleges Mr Gulen was responsible for the violent coup attempt that killed more than 270 people. Mr Gulen denies any involvement.

Police entered the courthouses on Monday morning to detain the suspects and conduct searches of their offices and computers, while other teams were searching their homes.

Four courthouse personnel were detained last week as part of the same investigation.

Detention orders commanded by the Istanbul chief public prosecutor’s office were later issued for 17 more personnel at Istanbul’s Buyukcekmece Courthouse, Anadolu reported Monday evening.

The government has launched a massive crackdown on alleged supporters of the Gulen movement, raising concerns among Western allies and human rights groups. More than 35,000 people have been detained for questioning while tens of thousands of others have been dismissed from government jobs, including in the judiciary, media, education, health care, military and local government.

After a cabinet meeting in Ankara on Monday afternoon, deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus announced a set of new government decrees targeting suspected Gulen supporters who have been dismissed from government jobs, including stripping some of them of their titles.

“A list compiled from various departments including the foreign ministry, coast guard, national police and Turkish armed forces will be published in today’s governmental decree and those Gulen members named in the list will lose their qualification as public servants,” said Mr Kurtulmus, adding those named will also lose the right to use their professional titles.

Authorities are currently investigating whether members affiliated with the Gulen movement stole the answers to the 2010 Public Service Placement Exam and distributed them to fellow members. Mr Kurtulmus said that those who are determined by authorities to have used the stolen answers to become public servants will also be dismissed.

One public prosecutor who had been dismissed following the coup was apprehended by security forces in southeast Turkey as he allegedly tried to illegally sneak into Syria.

Ekrem Beyaztas, a public prosecutor in the eastern province of Erzurum who was the subject of a detention order, was caught on Sunday night along the Syrian border in the southeastern province of Kilis, according to a statement released by the local governor’s office and confirmed by a Turkish official.

Meanwhile, in signs that the coup may be stretching relations with European nations, Turkey said on Monday it had summoned Sweden’s envoy in an escalating row after Stockholm accused Ankara of legalising sex with children.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom had tweeted on her official account that the “Turkish decision to allow sex with children under 15 must be reversed”, following a controversial ruling by the Turkish constitutional court.

“It is a scandal for a foreign minister to post such a tweet based on false news or speculation,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in, adding that the Swedish ambassador to Ankara had been summoned to his ministry.

Turkey’s constitutional court in July annulled a criminal code provision punishing as “sexual abuse” all sexual acts involving children under the age of 15, responding to a petition brought by a lower court.

The top court has given a six-month period for parliament to draw up a new law based on its ruling.

*Associated Press and Agence France-Presse