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Turkey defends purge of government officials to Council of Europe

At the Council of Europe (CoE) Turkey's foreign minister has defended his government's purge of public officials. Turkey has been accused of using July's coup attempt as a pretext for human rights abuses.

Turkey's foreign minister defended his government's purge of public officials to the Council of Europe (CoE) on Wednesday, claiming that "terrorist organizations" had infiltrated Turkish state organizations for the past 15 years.

Speaking in Strasbourg, Cavusoglu said that such terror organizations had trained their "stooges" for the civil service entry exams and successfully "placed their people everywhere." Under such circumstances, it was "normal" for the government to respond appropriately, he said.

The government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, issued a state of emergency decree after it supressed an attempted military coup on July 15. Since then, around 13,000 public officials have been suspended and more than 30,000 people have been arrested on suspicion of terror links. Among those arrested are a number of journalists and academics critical of the Erdogan regime. 

Cavusoglu's comments came after the CoE called on Friday for Turkey to end its state of emergency. A report released by the CoE's Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, accused the Turkish government of adopting state decrees granting it "almost unlimited powers" that have led to wide-ranging human rights abuses.

Turkey's foreign minister hit back at critics on Wednesday, saying that the government "simply had no other choice." He also claimed that France had adopted similar emergency measures following the terror attacks in Paris last November.

The state of emergency would be lifted once the situation was "back under full control," Cavusoglu said. However, the Turkish government had already extended it for another three months at the beginning of October.

Turkey again calls for the US to deport Gülen

Fethullah Gulen (Reuters/C. Mostoller)

Fethullah Gulen at home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania

Cavusoglu also repeated his party's calls for the United States to extradite Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen to Turkey, where he faces charges for organizing July's coup attempt. Gülen currently lives in self-imposed exile in the US state of Pennsylvania.

New evidence of his role in the coup was emerging very day, Turkey's foreign minister said. He also claimed that evidence was being shared with the US and that the Turkish government was awaiting Gülen's extradition. The US has so far refused to cooperate, disputing claims that Gülen is associated with terrorist activities.

dm/jm (AFP)

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