Turkey to extend state of emergency for sixth time

Members of a union protest Turkey's state of emergency outside the Labor Ministry in Ankara, on January 15, 2018

Turkey's top security body on Wednesday recommended extending the state of emergency for the sixth time since a failed 2016 coup, despite opponents' claims it is used to attack Ankara's critics.

The state of emergency should be extended for three more months, a statement said after a National Security Council (MGK) meeting in Ankara chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The parliament must approve the extension but this is seen as a formality. The latest extension was due to end on Friday.

The state of emergency first came into force on July 20, 2016, just five days after the attempted overthrow of Erdogan blamed by Ankara on a group led by Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

The US-based Gulen denies the charges but authorities have used the emergency powers to crack down on those suspected of links to Gulen as well as outlawed Kurdish militants.

Since the attempted coup, over 55,000 people have been arrested while more than 140,000 public sector workers including academics and prosecutors have been suspended or sacked.

The prolonged state of emergency has often come under fierce criticism from Ankara's Western allies, who fear the erosion of human rights under Erdogan. But Turkey insists it is dealing with an extraordinary threat that demands such a measure.

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