Turkey detains 42 journalists in crackdown as Europe sounds alarm

Supporters of various political parties gather in Istanbul's Taksim Square and wave Turkey's national flags during the Republic and Democracy Rally organised by main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Turkey, July 24, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal


Turkey ordered the detention of 42 journalists on Monday, broadcaster NTV reported, under a crackdown following a failed coup that has targeted more than 60,000 people, drawing fire from the European Union.

The arrests or suspensions of soldiers, police, judges and civil servants in response to the July 15-16 putsch have raised concerns among rights groups and Western countries, who fear President Tayyip Erdogan is capitalizing on it to tighten his grip on power.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker questioned Ankara’s long-standing aspiration to join the EU.

“I believe that Turkey, in its current state, is not in a position to become a member any time soon and not even over a longer period,” Juncker said on French television France 2.

Juncker also said that if Turkey reintroduces the death penalty – something the government has said it must consider, responding to calls from supporters at public rallies for the coup leaders to be executed – it would stop the EU accession process immediately.

Turkey abolished capital punishment in 2004, allowing it to open EU accession talks the following year, but the negotiations have made scant progress since then.

Responding to Juncker’s comments, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Haberturk TV that Europe cannot threaten Turkey regarding the death penalty.

Erdogan has declared a state of emergency, which allows him to sign new laws without prior parliamentary approval and limit rights as he deems necessary. The government has said these steps are needed to root out supporters of the coup and won’t infringe on the rights of ordinary Turks.

NTV reported that among the 42 journalists subject to arrest warrants was well-known commentator and former parliamentarian Nazli Ilicak.

State-run Turkish Airlines said it had fired 211 employees, citing their links to a religious movement Erdogan has blamed for the attempted putsch.

Seven soldiers from a group which attacked a hotel in the coastal town of Marmaris where Erdogan had been staying, in an apparent attempt to capture or kill him during the coup bid, were detained at a police checkpoint on Monday.

Authors:  Daren Butler and Seda Sezer

Source: www.reuters.com

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