15,000 dismissed, 500 institutions and news outlets shut down in fresh purge by Turkey's Erdogan

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaking at a news conference in Ankara on Nov 16, 2016.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaking at a news conference in Ankara on Nov 16, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

ANKARA (REUTERS) - Turkey on Tuesday (Nov 22) dismissed close to 15,000 more civil servants, military officials, police and others and shut down more than 500 institutions and news outlets in investigations over a failed coup in July, the authorities said in two official decrees.

More than 110,000 people have been sacked or suspended from the military, civil service, judiciary and elsewhere, while 36,000 people have been jailed pending trial as part of the investigation into the failed putsch.

Ankara blames US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and his supporters, which it calls the "Gulenist Terror Organisation", for orchestrating the coup bid, in which more than 240 people were killed.

Mr Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has denied involvement and condemned the coup.

Parallel to the purges targeting alleged followers of Mr Gulen, the authorities have cracked down on politicians and institutions they accuse of ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a 32-year insurgency against Turkey in the largely Kurdish south-east.

About 1,988 personnel from the Turkish Armed Forces, 7,586 from the police force, 403 from the gendarmerie, and more than 5,000 from public institutions were dismissed in Tuesday's crackdown alone over suspected links to terrorist organisations.

Western allies, particularly those in Europe, have voiced concern at the breadth of the purges under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, even calling for a freezing of Turkey's EU membership talks, while a senior UN official has called the measures "draconian" and "unjustified".

Mr Erdogan has rejected such criticism, saying Turkey is determined to root out its enemies at home and abroad, and could reintroduce the death penalty. He has accused Western nations of siding with the coup plotters and harbouring terrorists.

The decrees also announced the closing of some 550 institutions, 18 charities and nine media outlets. Turkey has closed more than 130 media outlets since July.