Turkey post-coup purge: Warrants issued for 42 journalists

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to people demonstrating against the Gulenist movement. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Ankara, Turkey Jul 25, 2016, 10.31 AM (IST)
Turkish authorities today issued arrest warrants for 42 journalists in a new phase of the controversial legal crackdown after the failed coup. 

Among those targeted by the warrants were prominent journalist Nazli Ilicak, who was fired from the pro-government Sabah daily in 2013 for criticising ministers caught up in a corruption scandal.

It happend when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to host opposition party chiefs for an unprecedented meeting.  

The talks at his presidential palace, the first such meeting during his term in office, comes after thousands of Turks of different political stripes massed in Istanbul on Sunday to denounce the coup in a rare show of unity. 

Harmony is not complete though, the head of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas, has not been invited.

Over 13,000 people have been detained so far in a vast sweep in the wake of the July 15 coup bid, which the authorities blame on the reclusive US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Currently living in a compound in rural Pennsylvania, his foundation runs a global network of schools, charities and media interests. He has strongly denied all the accusations since the beginning.

Erdogan's government had been under fire even before the failed putsch for restricting press freedoms in Turkey, accusations the authorities strongly deny.

There is no indication any of the journalists had been detained so far.

The purge keeps hitting also the army. In new raids on today, police detained some 40 suspects at the army's military academy on the European side of Istanbul.

Rights group alleges torture of detainees 

The government have also announced it will disband the 2,500-strong Presidential Guard, almost 300 of whose members have been detained.

As reported by the Turkish news agency Dogan, a female fighter pilot detained over the plot has confessed to landing a helicopter with rebel soldiers on board on the pitch of Besiktas football stadium during the coup night, but insisted she had no idea a putsch was in progress.

Rights group Amnesty International in London claimed it had "credible evidence" of the beating and torture of post-coup detainees but a Turkish official vehemently denied the accusations.

The length of time suspects can be held in custody without charge has been extended from four days to one month under a state of emergency that has caused alarm in the European Union.

The government says the stringent measures are needed to clear out the influence of Gulen from Turkey's institutions, claiming that he has created a "parallel state" inside Turkey.