Council of Europe chief urges post-coup Turkey 'not to cast net too wide'

AFP , Thursday 4 Aug 2016

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, August 4, 2016.Photo:Reuters

The head of a top European rights watchdog Thursday urged Turkey to show restraint in its crackdown on suspects linked to the failed July 15 coup that has seen thousands detained.

"Turkey's post coup proceedings: the net must not be cast too wide," Council of Europe chief Thorbjorn Jagland wrote on Twitter after meeting Turkish officials in Ankara.

Jagland is one of the most senior European officials to visit Turkey in the wake of the coup, with Turkey contrasting his presence with the failure of EU leaders to come in the wake of the coup.

After talks with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara the day earlier, Jagland had gladdened his hosts by saying there was a need to take on the "secret network" of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen who Ankara blames for the coup.

"Of course we see a need for cleaning up all of this," he said Wednesday, adding there was "too little" understanding in Europe on the challenges faced by Turkey.

A spokesman for Jagland clarified Thursday that while the secretary general "understands the need for the investigation", he was not backing a wholescale purge of Turkish institutions.

On Thursday Jagland held talks with EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik and main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

According to Interior Minister Efkan Ala, 25,917 people have now been detained, 13,419 of whom have been remanded in custody over their roles in the coup. Tens of thousands more have also lost their jobs, in particular in the education centre.

The spokesman said Jagland was for example concerned that a teacher should not be disqualified from the profession simply because they had worked at a Gulen-linked school.

But Erdogan said Thursday that the "virus" of Gulen's influence had spread everywhere in Turkey and must be "cleaned up".

"We have not put the full stop yet, this is a comma. We will keep on fighting in a determined way," he said in a speech at the presidential palace in Ankara.

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