Turkey Arrests 100 Judges, 60 Military for Alleged Coup Ties

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) -
People apprehend a Turkish soldier that participated in the attempted coup, on Istanbul's Bosporus Bridge, Saturday, July 16, 2016. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the nation Saturday that his government was working to crush a coup attempt after a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire across the capital that left dozens dead and scores wounded. Government officials said the coup appeared to have failed as Turks took to the streets overnight to confront troops attempting to take over the country. (AP Photo/Selcuk Samiloglu)
People apprehend a Turkish soldier who participated in the attempted coup, on Istanbul’s Bosporus Bridge, July 16. (AP Photo/Selcuk Samiloglu)

The Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency says authorities have rounded up over 100 more judges and prosecutors and 60 more military officers for their alleged roles in the failed coup.

The reports Sunday followed an intensive crackdown against the judiciary and the military in the wake of the botched coup Friday night against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Officials say about 3,000 soldiers, including officers, are already in detention. Almost a similar number of judges and prosecutors have been dismissed.

Still, the coup appears to have boosted Erdogan’s popularity. Clapping, singing and dancing, thousands of government supporters celebrated the defeat of the coup in public squares in Ankara and Istanbul into the wee hours Sunday, bolstering support for the man who has led Turkey for over 13 years.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the perpetrators of Friday’s failed coup “will receive every punishment they deserve,” and the government said it would take steps toward extraditing a U.S.-based cleric it accused of fomenting the uprising.

The Yeni Safak newspaper used the headline “Traitors of the Country,” while the Hurriyet newspaper declared “Democracy’s Victory.”

Still, the government crackdowns raised concerns over the future of democracy in Turkey, which has long prided itself on its democratic and secular traditions despite being in a tumultuous region swept by conflict and extremism.

Erdogan’s survival has turned him into a “sort of a mythical figure” and could further erode democracy in Turkey, said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish research program at The Washington Institute.

“It will allow him [Erdogan] to crack down on liberty and freedom of association, assembly, expression and media in ways that we haven’t seen before and find strong public support within the country,” he said.

Before the weekend’s chaos, Turkey — a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State terror group — had been wracked by political turmoil that critics blamed on Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian rule. He has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissidents, restricted the news media and renewed fighting with Kurdish rebels.

In an unusual show of unity, Turkey’s four main political parties released a joint declaration during an extraordinary parliamentary meeting Saturday, denouncing the coup attempt and claiming that any moves against the people or parliament will be met “with the iron will of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.”

Turkey’s military staged three coups between 1960 and 1980 and pressured Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, a mentor of Erdogan, out of power in 1997.