Turkey sacks 4,000 more officials in coup-bid crackdown

The Turkish government has sacked almost 4,000 more public officials in what appears to be the latest purge related to a failed coup last July.

They include more than 1,000 justice ministry workers, a similar number of army staff and more than 100 air force pilots, officials said.

In a separate decree, Turkey banned TV dating shows - a move previously mooted by the government.
Earlier on Saturday, Turkey blocked the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.

The latest sackings follow the suspension of more than 9,000 police officers and the arrest of 1,000 more last Wednesday on suspicion of having links to the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Mr Gulen of instigating last year's coup attempt, a charge the cleric denies.

The government said in its Official Gazette that all those sacked were suspected of links to "terrorist organisations and structures presenting a threat to national security".

Mr Erdogan narrowly won a controversial 16 April referendum on increasing his powers.

Opponents fear the vote, which has divided Turkey, brings him closer to authoritarian rule.

The ban on TV dating programmes follows a warning in March by Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus that the shows do not fit in with Turkish traditions and customs.
"There are some strange programmes that would scrap the institution of family, take away its nobility and sanctity," he said at the time.
Critics of Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) say they fear the country is sliding toward conservative Islam under Mr Erdogan.

However, AKP supporters say dating shows receive thousands of complaints and the ban is in the public interest.

Court order due
The block on Wikipedia was detected at about 08:00 (05:00 GMT) on Saturday, the Turkey Blocks monitoring group said.

Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority said an "administrative measure" had been taken but did not give details.

Turkish media said Wikipedia had been asked to remove content by certain writers whom the authorities accuse of "supporting terror" and of linking Turkey to terror groups.

The site had not responded to the demands, the daily newspaper Hurriyet said, and the ban was imposed as a result.

A formal court order backing up the provisional order is expected in the coming days.

Responding to the ban, Wikipedia's founder Jimmy Wales tweeted: "Access to information is a fundamental human right. Turkish people, I will always stand with you to fight for this right."

Turkey has temporarily blocked social media sites including Facebook and Twitter in the past, usually following protests or terror attacks.

President Erdogan narrowly won a referendum on increasing his powers. Reuters



Turkey blocks Wikipedia access, bans TV dating shows

Istanbul (AFP) - Turkey on Saturday blocked all access to Wikipedia and banned television dating shows, adding to fears of a crackdown after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's victory in a referendum on enhancing his powers.

The government also dismissed almost 4,000 public officials in the latest wave of the purge under the over nine-month state of emergency that has followed last July's failed coup.

Erdogan, who has dominated Turkey since 2003 as premier and now president, narrowly won the April 16 referendum on enhancing his powers which supporters believe will lead to better government but critics say creates one man rule.

Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) said it had implemented the ban against online encyclopedia Wikipedia.org with an administrative order.

Turkish state media said the ban was imposed because Wikipedia had failed to remove content promoting terror and accusing Turkey of cooperation with various terror groups.

There was no indication when the ban might be removed, with a formal court order expected to follow in the coming days.

- 'I stand with Turkey' -

Reacting to the ban, Wikipedia's founder Jimmy Wales wrote on Twitter: "Access to information is a fundamental human right. Turkish people, I will always stand with you to fight for this right."

A block affecting all language editions of the website in Turkey was detected from 0500 GMT after an administrative order by the Turkish authorities, according to the Turkey Blocks monitoring group, which follows internet restrictions in the country.

Residents in Istanbul were unable to access any pages of Wikipedia on Saturday morning without using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), AFP correspondents said.

The order was issued under Law 5651, passed in 2014 by parliament, which bolstered the BTK's control over the internet and was seen at the time by freedom of expression activists as an erosion of online liberties.

The incident quickly spawned its own separate Wikipedia entry -- "Wikipedia blocked in Turkey".

Turkey has become notorious over the last years for temporarily blocking access to popular sites, including Facebook and Twitter, in the wake of major events such as mass protests or terror attacks.

- 'Sanctity of the family' -

In a decree issued late Saturday evening, Turkey also banned hugely popular television dating shows, a move that been mooted for months by the government.

"In radio and television broadcasting services, such programmes in which people are introduced to find a friend.... cannot be permitted," said the text of the decree.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said in March that the ban was in the pipeline, arguing the shows do not fit in with Turkish traditions and customs.

"There are some strange programmes that would scrap the institution of family, take away its nobility and sanctity," Kurtulmus said at the time.

Opponents of the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government frequently voice fears that Turkey is sliding toward conservative Islam under Erdogan.

But AKP supporters have said that dating shows receive thousands of complaints every year and the ban is in the public interest.

- '4,000 sacked' -

Under a separate decree, 3,974 public officials were dismissed by Turkey including more than 1,000 people working with the justice ministry and over 1,000 staff employed by the army.

Those fired from the air force included over 100 pilots, it added. Almost 500 academics working for state institutions were also dismissed.

The dismissals came after Turkey on April 26 detained more than 1,000 people and suspended over 9,100 police in a vast new crackdown against alleged supporters of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for the failed July 15 coup bid.

An already nine month state of emergency in place since the coup bid has seen a total of 47,000 people arrested and prompted fears the crackdown is being used to go after all opponents of Erdogan.

Gulen denies being behind the coup but the authorities argue the purges are needed to wipe out his "virus" from society.

The crackdown has also caused major strains with the European Union, which Turkey has sought to join for the last half century in a so far fruitless membership drive.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday the EU's top officials will seek a meeting with Erdogan at a NATO summit next month despite the mounting tensions with Ankara.


Turkey fires 4,000 officials under emergency

Turkey on Saturday fired almost 4,000 public officials and imposed a ban on TV dating shows, in new decrees issued under the state of emergency imposed after last year’s failed coup.

The moves were the latest tough action by the authorities following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s victory in last month’s referendum on enhancing his powers.

They were also announced as Turkey controversially slapped a ban on Wikipedia earlier on Saturday morning.

The total of 3,974 dismissed officials includes more than 1,000 people working with the justice ministry and over 1,000 staff employed by the army, said the decree, which included the name of every fired official.

Those fired from the air force included over 100 pilots, it added. Almost 500 academics working for state institutions were also dismissed.

The dismissals came after Turkey on 26 April detained more than 1,000 people and suspended over 9,100 police in a vast new crackdown against alleged supporters of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for the failed 15 July coup bid.

An already nine month state of emergency in place since the coup bid has seen a total of 47,000 people arrested and prompted fears the crackdown is being used to go after all opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Gulen denies being behind the coup but the authorities argue the purges are needed to wipe out his “virus” from society.

In a separate decree issued at the same time, Turkey also banned hugely popular television dating shows, a move that been mooted for months by the government.

“In radio and television broadcasting services, such programmes in which people are introduced to find a friend.... cannot be permitted,” said the text of the decree.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said in March that the ban was in the pipeline, arguing the shows do not fit in with Turkish traditions and customs.

“There are some strange programmes that would scrap the institution of family, take away its nobility and sanctity,” Kurtulmus said at the time.

“God willing, in the near future, we will most likely remedy this with an emergency decree,” he said.

Opponents of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government frequently voice fears that Turkey is sliding toward conservative Islam.

But AKP supporters have said that dating shows receive thousands of complaints every year and the ban is in the public interest.

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