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Turkey dismisses 18,000 state employees for alleged terrorist links

By Daniel Uria
Turkey dismisses 18,000 state employees for alleged terrorist links
People hold a large Turkish flag during a march to mark the first anniversary of a coup attempt in 2016. The Turkish government fired 18,000 state employees Sunday, citing alleged terrorist ties in relation to the failed coup. Photo by STR/EPA

July 8 (UPI) -- Turkey dismissed more than 18,000 state employees citing alleged ties to terror organizations Sunday as part of a purge related to a failed coup in 2016.

A list of individuals including nearly 9,000 police officers, more than 6,000 military personnel, and about 1,000 employees from the justice ministry was published in Turkey's Official Gazette, stating they were dismissed for their alleged links to organizations which "act against national security."

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No organizations were named in the emergency decree, but government authorities have targeted supporters of Fetullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric residing in the United States who is accused of fomenting the coup, as well as sympathizers of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Turkey has fired more than 125,000 people since the failed coup, while also introducing emergency rule and placing restrictions on the media.

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The latest firings come a day before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to be sworn in for a new five-year term during a ceremony in Ankara.

Erdogan has pledged to lift the state of emergency, with some corresponding speculating Sunday's purge may be the last before he does so.

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Erdogan was re-elected with 52.6 percent of the vote in June, while his ruling Justice and Development Party also retained power amid claims of voter fraud by the opposition.

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He will enter this term with increased executive power as a result of changes to the constitution proposed in a referendum.

The referendum, which was approved by 51.34 percent of Turkish voters in April 2017, granted Erdogan the power to to appoint Cabinet ministers, issue decrees, choose senior judges and dissolve parliament.

It also abolished the prime minister post effective after the 2019 elections and increased presidential term limits, allowing Erdogan to remain in power until 2029.

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