10:10 Jul. 21, 2016
The aim is to be able to take fast and effective steps against democracy threats - R. Erdogan
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as he widened a crackdown against thousands of members of the security forces, judiciary, civil service and academia after a failed military coup.
Emergency rule, which would take effect after it is published in Turkey's official gazette, would allow the president and cabinet to bypass parliament in passing new laws and to limit or suspend rights and freedoms as they deem necessary.
Before announcing the state of emergency, Erdogan said the sweep was not yet over and that he believed foreign countries might have been involved in the attempt to overthrow him. Speaking through an interpreter in an interview with broadcaster Al Jazeera, Erdogan dismissed suggestions that he was becoming authoritarian and that Turkish democracy was under threat.
Academics were banned from traveling abroad on Wednesday in what a Turkish official said was a temporary measure to prevent the risk of alleged coup plotters at universities from fleeing. TRT state television said 95 academics had been removed from their posts at Istanbul University alone.
Erdogan blames a network of followers of an exiled U.S.-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, for Friday night's attempted coup, in which more than 230 people were killed and hundreds more wounded as soldiers commandeered fighter jets, military helicopters and tanks in a failed effort to overthrow the government.
Around a third of Turkey's roughly 360 serving generals have been detained since the coup attempt, a second senior official said, with 99 charged pending trial and 14 more being held.
On Tuesday, authorities shut media outlets deemed to be supportive of Gulen. More than 20,000 teachers and administrators have been suspended from the Education Ministry. One hundred intelligence officials, 492 people from the Religious Affairs Directorate, 257 at the prime minister's office and 300 at the Energy Ministry have been removed from duty.
Those moves come after the detention of more than 6,000 members of the armed forces - from foot soldiers to commanders - and the suspension of close to 3,000 judges and prosecutors. About 8,000 police officers, including in Ankara and the biggest city Istanbul, have also been removed.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Tuesday voiced "serious alarm" at the mass suspension of judges and prosecutors and urged Turkey to allow independent monitors to visit those who have been detained.
One of the ruling party's most senior figures, Mustafa Sentop, on Wednesday called for the restoration of the death penalty for crimes aimed at changing the constitutional order. But it was not immediately clear if Erdogan would back the move urged by his ally in comments to broadcaster NTV.
Erdogan's spokesman said on Tuesday the government was preparing a formal request to the United States for the extradition of Gulen. U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the status of Gulen in a telephone call with Erdogan on Tuesday, the White House said, urging Ankara to show restraint as it pursues those responsible for the failed coup.
Washington has said it would consider Gulen's extradition only if clear evidence was provided, prompting Turkish Prime Minister Yildirim to accuse the United States of double standards in its fight against terrorism. Any extradition request would face legal and political hurdles in the United States. Even if approved by a judge, it would still have to go to Secretary of State John Kerry, who can consider non-legal factors, such as humanitarian arguments.