12,800 Turkish police suspended in probe into failed coup
Turkish authorities have suspended 12,800 police officers from duty over their suspected links to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, as the country presses ahead with its vast crackdown on a network it claims was behind a failed military coup
In a brief statement posted on its website, the Turkish police headquarters said those suspended were allegedly "in cohesion with or connected to" Gulen's movement. It said 2,523 of them were police chiefs.
The move comes a day after the cabinet extended by a further three months a state of emergency declared after the July coup, which has facilitated the government's crackdown on Gulen's movement.
Tens of thousands of people have been dismissed or suspended from government jobs including in the military, police, judiciary and the education ministry. Around 32,000 people allegedly connected to the failed takeover attempt have been arrested, including dozens of journalists employed by Gulen-linked news outlets.
Authorities have closed schools, charities, foundations and even medical establishments associated to the movement and also appointed trustees to manage Gulen-linked businesses.
Turkey's main opposition party and human rights groups have accused the government of using emergency powers to clamp down on all dissenting voices - not just the Gulen movement.
The state of emergency has allowed the government to rule through decrees, often bypassing parliament. Last week, authorities closed at least 12 Kurdish television stations for alleged threats to national security, including a station that broadcast children's cartoons in the Kurdish language.
Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the US state of Pennsylvania, has denied involvement in the coup attempt that led to at least 270 deaths.
Turkey, however, wants him returned to stand trial for conspiring to bring down the government and has also requested that he be held in custody until the US courts decide on his extradition to Turkey.
Justice minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters on Tuesday that Turkey has received intelligence that Gulen is seeking a third country to escape to in the event that the United States agrees to extradite him.
"He is searching for places to escape in view of the possibility that the United States may return him," Mr Bozdag said. "We have intelligence that (Gulen supporters) are looking for a suitable country or place."
Reports claimed those countries are Brazil, Belgium and Canada.