Turkey arrests 35 Istanbul officials over coup links

Turkish police on Tuesday arrested 35 local authority officials in Istanbul over alleged ties to last year’s failed coup, just weeks after the city’s long-serving mayor stepped down, state media reported.

Another 77 Istanbul officials also face arrest, with a total of 112 warrants issued for current or former employees of several district authorities, Anadolu news agency reported. They are accused of links to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for orchestrating the bloody coup, charges he fiercely rejects.

They allegedly used Bylock, a messaging app used by the July 15, 2016 putsch suspects. They are accused of “membership in an armed terror group,” Anadolu reported. Separately, Ankara prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 142 people 121 of them from the education ministry, most of whom had been sacked, and 21 former employees of the sports ministry, Anadolu said.

The suspects are also accused of using Bylock, it added. The arrests follow last month’s resignation of Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas, after 13 years in the key post. Topbas, 72, did not give any reason for his resignation from the job which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself held from 1994 to 1998.

The former mayor found himself in a tricky situation after the coup, with police briefly arresting his son-in-law, a businessman, for alleged links to Gulen. Over 50,000 people have been arrested since last July, accused of links to the Gulen movement, while more than 140,000 public sector employees have been sacked or suspended.

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