Published: Sun, July 17, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Turkey: 132 members of judiciary held over failed coup

Turkey is now poised to become a more autocratic state with Erdogan, and this coup just made that easier.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said he would entertain an extradition request for the cleric Mr Gulen but that Turkey would have to provide evidence that he was behind the attempt to overthrow the government.

Thousands of people took to the streets in Turkey on Saturday to express solidarity for its beleaguered government and demand punishment for the plotters of Friday's failed coup.

Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said the government would ramp up its purge of Gulenists within the state after the failed coup attempt.

Turkish Prime Minister Benali Yildirim says 161 people have been killed as the country fought to overcome a military coup attempt.

The BBC reported Greek police said a military helicopter carrying eight men, mostly in military uniforms and believed to be part of the coup, landed in the country seeking asylum.

Yet even as Erdogan appears confident of quashing the bloodiest attempt to end his rule, the attempted coup risks fuelling more instability in a country already entangled in the war in neighbouring Syria as well as a conflict with Kurdish separatists at home.

He also said July 15 will be remembered as "a festival for democracy", the day when those who carried out a coup against the people were hit by a coup themselves.

The attempted coup began on Friday night when a faction of the military took over key bridges in Istanbul and attacked parliament buildings in Ankara. Gone were the soldiers who had appeared in the square the night before.

There was chaos in Istanbul as angry crowds jeered the passing tanks, with much smaller numbers welcoming the troops. Speaking to his supporters, he told them to resist the coup. His group is called Hizmet, which means service. "The EU fully supports the democratically elected government, the institutions of the country and the rule of law".

In a statement, Gulen said he condemned, "in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey" and sharply rejected any responsibility or knowledge of who might be involved.

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said earlier that he hoped democracy in Turkey would survive the aftermath of the coup.

Turkey's once-powerful military has long considered itself the guardian of the secular state founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923. The last coup happened in 1997, when the military gave out a series of "recommendations" after the rise of the Welfare Party, an Islamic political party.

Yildirim said that Gulen, Erdogan's chief political rival who now lives in Pennsylvania, should be turned over by the United States, and that anyone who protects him would risk good relations with Turkey.

Yildirim took aim at the United States for hosting what he called "the leader of a terrorist organization".

Turkey is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member and a key partner in U.S.-led efforts to defeat the Islamic State group, which controls territory in Syria and Iraq, and has allowed American fighter jets to use its Incirlik air base to fly missions against the extremists.

Mr Cavusoglu described them as "treacherous" but Greece said it would consider their asylum requests after handing back the Blackhawk helicopter "as soon as possible".

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