Two constitutional court judges removed as Turkey purge spreads

Turkey removed two constitutional court judges on Thursday, as the government earlier in the day expanded its purge of suspects following the recent attempted coup to include the country's business community.

According to state news agency Anadolu, Judges Alparslan Altan and Erdal Tercan, detained shortly after the failed July 15 coup, were accused of having connections with the Islamist movement of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suspects Gulen of plotting the coup.

Speaking in Ankara, Erdogan called the recent wave of arrests "just the tip of the iceberg," adding that Gulen's support is especially strong in the private sector.

"Those who have been caught already are just the tip of the iceberg," he said, calling on business people to report suspected Gulen supporters to the authorities. "It can also be someone who is near to you," he said, adding that whoever finances Gulen's movement is as guilty as the coup plotters.

Erdogan has promised to remove all Gulen supporters from positions of power.

So far, government employees have borne the brunt of the purges. According to government reports on Tuesday, 58,611 government workers have been suspended, and another 3,499 have been fired. In addition, more than 20,000 teachers at private schools have had their licences revoked.

Some 150 university employees in the western Turkish city of Bursa were suspended over accusations of supporting Gulen in the latest fallout from the coup, the Dogan news agency reported Thursday. Most of those suspended from Uludag University were academics, it added, though administrative personnel had also been affected.

Gulen was a longtime ally of the president, but the two fell out in recent years, sparking a number of upheavals in Turkey.

Allegedly, the cleric's followers became part of the state bureaucracy and military, especially during Erdogan's conservative Justice and Development Party's (AKP) time in government.

According to the Interior Ministry on Wednesday, 25,917 people have been detained, 13,419 of whom have been issued arrest warrants.

Interior Minister Efkan Ala said 74,562 passports had been declared invalid to prevent suspects from fleeing the country.

Last update: Thu, 04/08/2016 - 19:29

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