Turkey detains at least 10 foreign nationals over links to failed coup

The deputy prime minister says one of those arrested attempted to cross the border from Syria

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 08 August 2016 20:26 BST
People wave Turkey's national flags during the Democracy and Martyrs Rally
People wave Turkey's national flags during the Democracy and Martyrs Rally (Reuters)

Turkish authorities have arrested at least 10 foreign nationals as part of the crackdown following last month’s attempted coup, the country’s deputy prime minister has said.

Numan Kurtulmus told reporters that at least four people had been arrested pending trial, accused of aiding Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim cleric accused of masterminding the bid to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 15 July.

A fifth person was released and at a least one foreign national is on the run, he said in a press conference after a Cabinet meeting on Monday.

One of those detained on Saturday night had tried to enter Turkey illegally from Syria, Mr Kurtulmus said.

Around 18,000 people have been arrested since the failed coup which saw some sections of the army blockade both bridges on the Bosphorus, the main airport in Istanbul and took over the state broadcaster.

A further 70,000 people have been suspended or dismissed from their jobs in the civil service, judiciary, education, police, healthcare, the military and the media.

On Thursday, an Istanbul court formally ordered the arrest of Mr Gulen despite his insistence that he had no knowledge of the coup.

The country has demanded his extradition but Washington has said it will need to see evidence of his involvement in the coup before complying.

Turkey deems the Gulenist movement, which runs charities and schools across the world, as a terrorist organisation.

Western leaders have expressed their concern about the severity of the crackdown and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has warned Mr Erdogan that Turkey will not be able to join the union if he follows through on his threat to reinstate the death penalty.

Since the attempted coup, there have been frequent rallies in the streets of Istanbul and the capital Ankara in support of Mr Erdogan.

Mr Kurtulmus, citing police figures, claimed five million attended a mass rally in Istanbul on Sunday which he said showed they wanted Mr Gulen to go back to Turkey to face trial.

He has also called for the return of several other US-based Gulen supporters.

He said:"I have no doubt that U.S. officials will review their stance.

"Either they will continue to protect three or five bandits, or they will act in a way that will allow them to win the hearts of a nation of 79 million people."

Additional reporting by AP

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