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58,000 arrested, fired or suspended since Turkey coup

By Harry Cockburn

More than 58,000 soldiers, police officers, judges, teachers and government workers have been detained, suspended or placed under investigation since the failed military coup in Turkey, it has emerged.

In the wake of the botched uprising, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan swiftly moved to entrench his power, arresting, sacking and suspending swathes of Turkey’s workforce.

The president said the aim of the crackdown was to “cleanse all state institutions” of those suspected of involvement with the coup or with what he calls “the parallel state” — a reference to the movement run by Mr Erdogan’s former ally and current nemesis Fethullah Gulen.

The Turkish government blamed the coup on Gulen’s organisation, which it said had infiltrated Turkey’s military and civilian infrastructure.

Mr Gulen and his supporters have denied involvement in the coup.

On Tuesday, the president refused to rule out the reintroduction of the death penalty for the “terrorists” who plotted the failed overthrow.

No one has been executed in Turkey since 1984, and the death penalty was officially abolished in 2004. However, the president signalled that he may be willing to backtrack amid the crackdown on those who launched the coup.

“Why should I keep them and feed them in prisons, for years to come? That’s what the people say,” Mr Erdogan said.

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