Turkey extends state of emergency by three months

Istanbul, TurkeyUpdated: Jan 03, 2017, 10:15 PM IST

Turkey's parliament approved a government-backed motion to extend state of emergency. Photograph:(Reuters)

Turkey's parliament on Tuesday approved a government-backed motion to extend by another three months the state of emergency imposed in the wake of the July 15 failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The state of emergency, which has seen tens of thousands lose their jobs or be arrested on suspicion of links to the putsch, had already been prolonged once before and was due to expire on January 19.

Ankara argues the state of emergency is needed to eradicate the influence in Turkish institutions of the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who it blames for the failed coup. Gulen denies the charges.

However, the state of emergency, which is now set to last at least nine months, has troubled the European Union which fears it has been used for a broad crackdown against Erdogan critics and not just suspected coup plotters.

According to the latest figures published by the state-run Anadolu news agency, over 41,000 people have been arrested over suspected links to Gulen in the investigation.

Meanwhile, over 103,000 people have been investigated as part of the probe, it added.

The state of emergency gives the government special powers to fire state employees and close down associations, including media groups.

It also extends the time that suspects can be held in jail without being charged.

Erdogan had in November already hinted that the state of emergency would be extended, lashing out at the European Parliament which had backed freezing membership talks with Turkey over the emergency powers.

"What`s it to you?" he said in comments directed at the European Parliament. "Is the European Parliament in charge of this country or is the government in charge of this country?" 

"Know your place!" he added, in an angry tirade.

He noted that France had also put in place a state of emergency after it was hit by a string of Islamist attacks in 2015.