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Turkey Suspends Thousands Of Officials Amid Calls For Proportionate Response

  • RFE/RL

Members of the police special forces stand guard in front of the Air Force Academy in Istanbul, Turkey.

Members of the police special forces stand guard in front of the Air Force Academy in Istanbul, Turkey.

Turkish authorities have suspended nearly 8,000 police officers in the wake of the failed military coup attempt, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on July 18, citing the Interior Ministry.

More than 7,500 people, including members of judiciary and military, have been detained in sweeps across the country in connection with the July 15 coup attempt.

Turkish authorities also removed dozens of governors of towns, state media reported as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to continue the "cleansing."

There were conflicting reports about whether a former Turkish air force commander had confessed to planning the coup.

Anadolu quoted General Akin Ozturk, who had been detained, as telling interrogators he had "acted with intention to stage a coup," but two private broadcasters said the general had denied playing a role.

Erdogan has also said that his country would consider reinstating capital punishment against coup participants.

The government said on July 18 that 208 people, including 145 civilians were killed, and more than 1,490 wounded in the violence.

The arrests and dismissals come amid calls on Turkish authorities to respect democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.

"We firmly urge the government of Turkey to maintain calm and stability throughout the country," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on July 18.

"We also urge the government of Turkey to uphold the highest standards of respect for the nation's democratic institutions and the rule of law. We will certainly support bringing the perpetrators of the coup to justice but we also caution against a reach that goes well beyond that," Kerry said, speaking in Brussels after meeting with EU counterparts.

Germany warned that negotiations for Turkey to join the European Union would end if the Turkish government decides to revive the death penalty.

Capital punishment has not been used in Turkey since 1984 and was abolished in 2004 to meet European Union accession criteria.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said Ankara's reaction to the failed coup needs to be "proportionate."

Turkey’s opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) said on July 18 that authorities’ response to the coup attempt must be conducted within the rule of law. It said the suspects behind the coup attempt must be tried in the courts.

In a statement, the CHP also said the military must not be portrayed as the enemy.

Erdogan has vowed to "clean all state institutions of the virus" of supporters of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for being behind the plot to overthrow the government.

Turkey said on July 17 that it would request the extradition of Gulen, who has condemned the failed coup attempt and denied any involvement in it.

Kerry said on July 18 that the United States has not received a formal request from Turkey for Gulen's extradition.

Kerry said he had told Turkey's foreign minister "to make certain that in whatever portfolio and request they send us they send us evidence, not allegations."

"We need to see genuine evidence that withstands the standard of scrutiny that exists in many countries' system of law with respect to the issue of extradition and if it meets that standard, there is nothing, there is no interest we have in standing in the way of appropriately honoring the treaty that we have with Turkey with respect to extradition," Kerry said.

With reporting by AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters, the BBC