Ankara: Turkish authorities on Friday widened their post-coup crackdown to the business sector, detaining three top tycoons as part of investigations into the activities of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.
Twenty-one journalists also appeared in an Istanbul court after being rounded up in the sweeping purge, which has seen almost 16,000 people detained since the failed July 15 putsch.
Turkish authorities blame Gulen for the rebellion, which aimed to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and they are now seeking to erase the reclusive cleric’s influence from all aspects of Turkish life.
But the scale of the crackdown has sparked international alarm, with the EU enlargement commissioner implicitly warning the bloc would freeze Turkey’s accession talks if it violated the rule of law.
Johannes Hahn said he needed to see “black-and-white facts about how these people are treated”.
“And if there is even the slightest doubt that the (treatment) is improper, then the consequences will be inevitable,” he told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Following a shake-up of the military on Thursday after nearly half of its 358 generals were sacked, the top brass of the reshuffled armed forces met Erdogan at his presidential palace in Ankara.
Ninety-nine colonels have been promoted to generals and admirals, although Chief of staff General Hulusi Akar — who was held hostage during the coup attempt — stayed in his post along with the heads of the navy, land and air forces.
Turkey insisted its military would keep up the fight against Islamic State (IS) jihadists and other militants, saying the armed forces would emerge stronger from the purge.
“When we weed them (pro-Gulenist elements) out, our army will first of all be more dynamic, cleaner and more effective,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, dismissing concerns that the forces would be weakened.
Meanwhile the probe into coup plotters shifted focus to the financing of Gulen’s activities in Turkey, with what appeared to be the first major arrests targeting the business world.
Security forces in the central city of Kayseri detained the chairman of the family-owned Boydak Holding company, Mustafa Boydak, and two other top executives, state-run Anadolu news agency said.
He and the two other executives — Sukru and Halit Boydak — were detained at their homes. Efforts were continuing to detain former chairman Haci Boydak as well as Ilyas and Bekir Boydak, for whom warrants have also been issued.
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