Istanbul police detain 136 courthouse staff in coup probe

AP News
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Posted: Aug 15, 2016 11:41 AM
Istanbul police detain 136 courthouse staff in coup probe

ISTANBUL (AP) — Police teams on Monday apprehended 136 personnel in operations conducted at three Istanbul courthouses as part of an investigation into the July 15 abortive 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 U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. Ankara alleges Gulen was responsible for the violent coup attempt that left over 270 people dead. Gulen denies any involvement.

Police entered the courthouses 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.

Following a cabinet meeting in Ankara 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 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. 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 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.