ISTANBUL — Turkey announced Monday that it is extending a three-month-long state of emergency, declared after the country’s failed military coup, by a further three months as it presses ahead with a massive crackdown on a movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters after a weekly Cabinet meeting that the state of emergency — introduced five days after the failed July 15 coup that killed at least 270 people — will be prolonged by another 90 days from Oct. 19.
The state of emergency has allowed the government to rule through decrees, often bypassing parliament and facilitating authorities’ clampdown on the Gulen movement, accused of orchestrating the uprising. Turkey has so far arrested some 32,000 people in connection with the coup while tens of thousands of people have been dismissed or suspended from government jobs including the police, military and judiciary.
Turkey’s main opposition party and human rights groups have, however, accused the government of using emergency powers to clamp down on other dissenting voices — not just the Gulen movement.
Last week, authorities closed down at least 12 Kurdish television stations for alleged threats to national security, including a station that broadcast children’s cartoons in the Kurdish language.
Authorities meanwhile, detained one of Gulen’s brothers in the western city of Izmir, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Anadolu Agency says authorities had been searching for Kutbettin Gulen on charges of “membership in and leadership of a terrorist organization” when he was detained at a friend’s home in Izmir on Sunday.
Anadolu says Kutbettin had participated in a 2014 press conference in Istanbul along with other relatives in support of Gulen. Officials told Anadolu no charges are being brought against his spouse or the friend.
Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, has denied involvement in the coup.
Turkey, however, wants him extradited to Turkey to stand trial and on Monday, Kurtulmus reiterated a Turkish demand that the cleric be detained until the U.S. courts decide on his extradition to Turkey.
“As a country that has a strategic partnership with the United States … we are asking that (Gulen) be detained until the U.S. judiciary makes a decision,” Kurtulmus said. “We hope that our request is met at the soonest time possible and that the necessary steps are taken.”