Turkey suspends more than 9,100 police officers accused of coup ties

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Latest detentions came 10 days after voters narrowly backed plans to expand Mr Erdogan's already wide powers in a referendum: AP

Turkey has suspended more than 9,100 police officers with alleged links to last year’s failed coup, according to local media reports.

The officers are being investigated for suspected ties to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is now accused by the government of trying to topple him by force last July.

It came as authorities issued detention orders for 3,224 people for their alleged links to the movement in a nationwide crackdown on Gulen’s supporters.

More than 1,000 had already been detained by Turkish authorities, accused of secretly infiltrating police forces across the country on behalf of Gulen.

The sweep was one of the largest operations in months against suspected supporters of the cleric.

It was not immediately clear if the suspensions were directly connected to the detention of the suspects whom Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu described as "secret imams".

More than 100,000 people, including police, military personnel and teachers, have been purged from the civil service as part of the crackdown on Gulen's movement since the coup.

The latest detentions come 10 days after voters narrowly backed plans to expand Mr Erdogan's already wide powers in a referendum which opposition parties and European election observers said was marred by irregularities.

A leading European human rights body has placed Turkey on a watchlist over concerns about the functioning democratic institutions in the country.

The referendum bitterly divided Turkey.

Mr Erdogan's critics fear further drift into authoritarianism, with a leader they see as bent on eroding modern Turkey's democracy and secular foundations.

However, the Turkish President argued strengthening the presidency would avert instability associated with coalition governments, at a time when Turkey faces multiple challenges including security threats from Islamist and Kurdish militants.

Additional reporting by agencies.

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