The Latest: Thousands on Istanbul bridge protest coup try

AP News
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Posted: Jul 21, 2016 5:08 PM
The Latest: Thousands on Istanbul bridge protest coup try

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The latest developments on the situation in Turkey after the failed military coup last week (all times local):

12:05 p.m.

Thousands of people have gathered on Istanbul's Bosporus Bridge to protest Friday's failed coup attempt.

Waiving Turkish flags, the crowds on Thursday night walked across the bridge linking the European and Asian sides of the city. Some defiantly chanted "Our martyrs are immortal, our nation cannot be divided!"

Coup plotters deployed soldiers to the bridge as part of their attempt to take over on July 15. Videos have emerged of soldiers firing at civilians who rushed to the bridge to counter the coup.

Other footage showed a mob attacking surrendering soldiers.

The government says 246 pro-government people — forces and civilians — died while confronting the attempted military coup.

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11:40 p.m.

The U.N. secretary general is urging Turkish authorities to ensure constitutional order and respect human rights during the three-month state of emergency the government just declared.

In a statement Thursday, Ban Ki-moon said he had received repeated assurances from senior Turkish government officials that they would adhere to rule of law and due process when investigating and prosecuting those believed to be responsible for the attempted coup and he asked that they honor them.

Ban said he hoped that procedures under the state of emergency will be carried out in full transparency.

A crackdown on alleged government opponents since Turkey's failed coup last week has left 10,000 people in jail and some 60,000 workers fired or suspended from their jobs.

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11 p.m.

Syrian President Bashar Assad says the recent failed military coup in Turkey was a "reflection of the instability and turmoil inside Turkey."

Assad says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used the coup to implement his extremist agenda inside his country "and this is dangerous for Turkey, and for its neighbors and the world."

During an interview Thursday with the Cuba's official news agency, Presensa Latina, Assad also criticized Erdogan's crackdown on alleged government opponents, which has left 10,000 people in jail and some 60,000 workers fired or suspended from their jobs in the past few days.

Turkey hosts 2.75 million of refugees who have fled the violence in neighboring Syria. Erdogan is a staunch opponent of Assad and urged his overthrow.

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10 p.m.

Rights group Amnesty International says Turkey's decision to impose a state of emergency amid an intensive crackdown on the military, public sector and the media could pave the way for further rollbacks on human rights.

Amnesty said the government's decision to suspend the European Convention on Human Rights during the three-month emergency rule is a "chilling harbinger of what is to come."

Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International Turkey's researcher, said the Turkish government must not use the state of emergency as a pretext to clamp down on peaceful dissent.

Nearly 60,000 public sector workers have already been fired or suspended, and 10,000 people, mostly soldiers and judges, have been detained in Turkey since the foiled Friday coup.

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8:05 p.m.

Videos have emerged of soldiers firing at large protests in Turkey during last weekend's failed coup.

Footage from CCTV cameras above the Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul show soldiers shooting straight at one man who had his hands up while approaching tanks that blocked traffic. Other footage shows a mob attacking surrendering soldiers over the same bridge after daybreak Saturday.

The violent scenes correspond with the Associated Press reporting of events unfolding late Friday and early Saturday in Turkey. Forces loyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quelled the attempted coup hours later. The footage was obtained from the Turkish Dogan news agency.

The government says 246 pro-government people — forces and civilians — died while confronting the attempted military coup that began the night of July 15.

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7:40 p.m.

Rating agency DBRS has downgraded Turkey's government debt into junk status following the failed military coup and the government's subsequent crackdown.

The agency said its one-notch cut to BB (high) "reflects the deterioration in the rule of law and rising geopolitical tensions, all in the context of Turkey's large external financing needs."

Turkey is a net beneficiary of investment from outside its borders, so any concerns that those investments could dry up would raise concerns about its financial stability. Following the coup, Turkey moved to eliminate thousands of perceived dissenters from the educational system, military and government.

DBRS said in a statement Thursday that "institutional checks and balances appear to have eroded with concerns about judicial independence and freedom of the press. The fallout of the attempted coup could accelerate these political trends."

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6:30 p.m.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek says the country's civil service won't suffer as a result of large-scale dismissals or suspensions of government officials in the wake of the failed coup.

Simsek told journalists Thursday that the dismissals won't "limit state capacity" saying the country had 4 million public sector employees, including some 1 million teachers.

As of Thursday, 58,881 civil service employees have been dismissed, suspended, forced to resign or had their licenses revoked since the July 15 failed attempted coup.

Simsek said all officials would be subjected to "proper judicial review" and would be "able to challenge conclusions at a court of law."

— (This version corrects to show the country has 4 million public sector workers)

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6:10 p.m.

Turkey's parliament has endorsed sweeping new powers for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that would allow him to expand a crackdown in the wake of last week's failed coup.

Legislators in the 550-member parliament on Thursday voted 346-115 to approve a three-month state of emergency across Turkey.

Erdogan announced a Cabinet decision to seek the additional powers, saying the state of emergency would give the government the tools to rid the military of the "virus" of subversion.

The government says a U.S.-based Muslim cleric is behind the coup attempt and has embarked on a massive crackdown on the movement's followers.

--This item has been corrected to show that 346 legislators approved the state of emergency, not 356.

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5 p.m.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said the state of emergency will be used to act swiftly against the perpetrators of the coup.

Simsek insisted that the state of emergency would be different to those imposed in the country previously and that the rule of law will be upheld. He laid out his hope it would be short-lived.

"We will use it in a fashion closer to our allies like France and others," he told reporters as Parliament was debating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's declaration of a three-month state of emergency on Wednesday.

Simsek said the government will go after "rogue" elements within the state and that there could have been "carnage in the streets" had the coup succeeded.

"We owe it to our people to go after them. We will have a legal framework for it."

Simsek said there will be proper judicial review, but didn't elaborate.

Turkey experienced a national state of emergency in the immediate years after martial law was declared in 1980 following a coup. It was also declared across the restive southeast region between 1978 and 2002.

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3:45 p.m.

Turkey's deputy prime minister says his country will suspend the European Human Rights Convention as it prepares to implement the country's new state of emergency after a failed coup.

Parliament is set to approve the three-month state of emergency on Thursday, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced it a day earlier.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus says Turkey will suspend the human rights convention in line with an article contained within the agreement allowing for it in time of emergencies.

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3:35 p.m.

A Greek court has sentenced eight Turkish military personnel who fled to Greece aboard a helicopter during an attempted coup in their country to two months in prison on charges of illegal entry into Greece.

All eight received the same sentence Thursday, with the recognition of mitigating circumstances of having acted while under threat. The pilot was acquitted of a charge of violating flight regulations.

The sentence was suspended for three years, but they were being held in custody pending resolution of their asylum applications.

Turkey has demanded their return to stand trial for participation in Friday's coup attempt. The eight deny involvement and have applied for asylum, saying they fear for their safety amid widespread purges in Turkey in the aftermath of the attempted overthrow of the government.

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2:55 p.m.

A U.N. envoy is hinting that there are concerns about how the fallout from Turkey's failed coup could affect talks aimed at reunifying ethnically split Cyprus.

But Espen Barth Eide says there's no evidence now suggesting Turkey's government will shift its position of support for the complex negotiations.

Eide says the region's increasing troubles can spur both sides to resolve the decades-old problem. He said Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci remain strongly committed to reaching a federal deal.

A 1974 Turkish invasion, triggered by a coup aimed at union with Greece, split the island.

Greek Cypriot officials say Turkey holds the key to deal because it bankrolls the Turkish Cypriot economy and maintains more than 40,000 troops in the breakaway north.

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2 p.m.

Turkish state news agency Anadolu is reporting that one soldier linked to the attack on the hotel where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was vacationing during the foiled coup has been captured.

The report says the lieutenant was captured in southwestern Turkey.

He is one of nearly 30 soldiers government officials said were involved in the attack on the hotel in Marmaris resort where Erdogan was vacationing.

The attackers arrived minutes after he left the place, according to the government's account. The officials said earlier this week that at least four remained on the run.

The manhunt for them is ongoing, with police inspecting vehicles, and showing pictures of the suspects to passengers.

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1:50 p.m.

Eight Turkish military personnel who fled to Greece a board a helicopter during an attempted coup in their country are testifying in court during their trial on charges of entering Greece illegally.

Turkey is seeking their return to stand trial for participation in Friday's coup attempt. The eight deny any involvement and have applied for asylum, saying they fear for their lives if returned.

Three of the defendants testified Thursday they were helicopter pilots unaware of the coup. They said they were tasked with transporting wounded people when their choppers came under fire from police. Their unit told them not to return to base because the situation was too dangerous. After landing in a different location, they decided to flee, taking one of the aircraft across the border into Greece.

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10:40 a.m.

Turkish state media say a further 32 judges and two military officers have been detained by authorities during the crackdown on alleged conspirators following last week's failed coup.

The detentions reported Thursday by Anadolu news agency come hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency that is expected to expand the crackdown.

Already, nearly 10,000 people have been arrested while hundreds of schools have been closed. And nearly 60,000 civil service employees have been dismissed from their posts since the failed coup Friday.

The Turkish government has laid the blame for the coup on a movement led by a U.S-based Turkish cleric.

The Turkish Parliament is meeting later to approve Erdogan's proposed state of emergency.

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10 a.m.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says Turkey's state of emergency should only last as long as it's "absolutely necessary."

A day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency following last week's failed coup, Steinmeier said it's important that "the rule of law, a sense of proportion and commensurability are preserved."

In a statement Thursday, Steinmeier said it's in Turkey's interest to "keep the state of emergency only for the duration that is absolutely necessary and then immediately end it."

Erdogan, who had been accused of autocratic conduct even before this week's tough crackdown, said the state of emergency would counter threats to Turkey.

Steinmeier said action should only be taken against those with "a provable involvement in punishable actions" and not "an alleged political attitude."