Turkey: Hundreds arrested in latest round of purges

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan cracks down on internal political opposition, orders the arrest of 700 people.

Eitan Divinsky ,

President Erdogan reasserts authority in Turkey
President Erdogan reasserts authority in Turkey

Turkey's state prosecution ordered the arrest of nearly 700 people today (Tuesday), including military personnel and Justice Department officials, claiming they were part of the network that planned the 2016 coup attempt.

Some 250 people, most of them anti-government activists, were killed in clashes with government troops on July 15, 2016.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has been carrying out a deadly intimidation campaign against followers of Muhammed Fethullah Gülen, a former Erdogan ally exiled to the United States.

Although more than three and a half years have passed since the attempted uprising, Turkish police continue rounding up activists suspected of involvement in the failed coup.

The latest wave of arrests is one of the largest in recent memory.

Among the detainees are 101 military officers taking part in an investigation of Turkey's armed forces, and 71 individuals arrested in Ankara on suspicion of aiding Gülen within the Justice Department.

Arrest warrants have also been issued for an additional 460 individuals as part of a corruption investigation into the 2009 police admissions tests.

Erdogan has for years targeted Gülen's followers, accusing them of trying to set up a "parallel state" in Turkey by infiltrating the ranks of the police, judiciary and other state institutions. Turkey's allies in the West, including the EU and human rights groups, have criticized the scale of the political purges, while Ankara has claimed it is a necessary response to the ongoing "security threat."