Post-coup witch-hunt: 13,000 police agents suspended, many officers detained, and TV channel shut down
A police officer committed suicide after he was suspended. The state of emergency is extended for another 90 days. Government says judicial process must be speeded up. Crackdown hits economy: currency down, inflation up, growth prospects cut and debt downgraded to "junk".
Istanbul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Turkish authorities suspended nearly 13,000 police officers, detained dozens of air force officers and shut down a Kurdish TV station on Tuesday, widening a state-ordered clampdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against perceived culprits in July's failed coup.
The latest groups involved join 76,000 people already detained and 16,000 arrested in recent weeks on suspicion of links with Fethullah Gülen‘s movement. More than 100,000 people have also been questioned.
Turkish police said 12,801 officers, including 2,523 chiefs, were suspended because of suspected links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the coup that left 240 people dead.
The suspensions were ordered hours after Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus announced that the cabinet had approved a 90-day extension to the current state of emergency, renewing President Tayyip Erdoğan's powers to govern by decree at least until January.
The emergency extension, which parliamentary is likely to wave through, means Erdoğan can take decisions without oversight of the Constitutional Court, Turkey's highest legal body.
As well as suspending and arresting members of the police force, the authorities stopped TV station IMC from broadcasting following accusations of spreading "terrorist propaganda".
One of the police officers suspended on Tuesday, a 26-year-old man, committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in a park in the Mediterranean city of Mersin.
The new crackdown follows a series of purges, convictions and attacks against critical voices, dissenters, opponents, intellectuals, soldiers, government officials and ordinary citizens after the failed 15 July coup.
In a further sign of the government's desire to move rapidly to quell domestic opposition, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the judicial process needed to be speeded up, especially when it came to prosecuting those accused of backing the coup.
The warning applies to defendants accused of supporting in various ways the attempted coup as well as those who are pushing for Kurdish autonomy also deemed as "terrorists".
However, Erdoğan's witch-hunt has caused collateral damage to Turkey’s economy with credit ratings agencies downgrading the country's debt to "junk" and the lira weakening against the dollar.
In view of this, Prime Minister Yildirim yesterday lowered the growth outlook for 2016, saying the economy was likely to expand 3.2 per cent, well below an original 4.5 per cent forecast, whilst inflation for the year is set to hit 7.5 per cent.