Watch CBS News

Fear of worse to come after attempted coup in Turkey

Turkey post-coup attempt
Fears worse to come after Turkey coup attempt 01:50

ISTANBUL -- The Turkish government is rounding up its enemies -- not just the soldiers who attempted to seize power in the failed coup, but also judges and prosecutors.

State media said Monday that almost 9,000 people had been fire from jobs run by the Interior Ministry, including governors and government legal advisers. Thousands of police and military personnel have been taken off the job. Almost 30 military generals and admirals were being questioned about their suspected role in the coup.

At least 6,000 people jailed after failed Turkish coup 02:30

Among those facing questioning this week is former Air Force commander Gen. Akin Ozturk, described as the leader of the foiled uprising. He has insisted that he tried to quell the challenge to the elected government.

Turkey's democratically elected president Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended funerals on Sunday for the 294 people killed in the coup attempt, vowing to destroy what he called the "virus" that caused it.

Mourners demanded that the government execute the coup plotters, even though Turkey has abolished the death penalty.

The attempted military coup began late Friday night as tanks sealed off Istanbul's two main bridges, fighter jets buzzed overhead and a bomb ripped through Turkey's parliament building. Members of the armed forces took control of Turkish state TV, declaring martial law.

Why Turkish president can emerge stronger after quashing coup 02:21

But when President Erdogan called in from his cell phone, urging his supporters to rise up, thousands did. Nearly 300 people lost their lives in a night of chaos and confusion.

By Saturday morning the soldiers were surrendering, and just hours later, Erdogan's supporters were celebrating victory. The problem is that President Erdogan, an Islamic conservative, had himself been accused of increasingly authoritarian tactics even before the coup attempt. He has locked up his rivals and seized control of an opposition newspaper.

Those fears of a powerful leader becoming increasingly authoritarian were apparently the cause of the coup attempt -- and many fear there will now be worse to come.

The European Union and the United States expressed alarm Monday with Turkey's response to the failed coup, telling the NATO member and EU aspirant that it must uphold democracy and human rights as it pursues those involved in the plot.

"This is no excuse to take the country away from fundamental rights and the rule of law, and we will be extremely vigilant on that," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said at a joint news conference with Secretary of State John Kerry.

The top American diplomat said Turkey must "uphold the highest standards for the country's democratic institutions and the rule of law."

While he recognized the need to apprehend the coup plotters, Kerry said: "We caution against a reach that goes beyond that."

Erdogan and his allies in Turkey have blamed the uprising on U.S.-based Muslim cleric who has become one of Erdogan's chief opponents.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said Sunday that he was confident the United States would return Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen to Turkey for his alleged role in the coup plot.

Erdogan has blamed Gulen and his followers for the failed military coup, but Gulen, who was profiled by "60 Minutes" in 2012, has denied any involvement in or knowledge of the attempt. The U.S. has said it will look at any evidence Turkey has to offer against Gulen, and judge accordingly.

Kerry made it clear in his remarks Monday that the U.S. government had received no formal extradition request from Turkey pertaining to Gulen, and stressed that if they did submit one, it would have to contain evidence -- not just allegations.

"We need to see genuine evidence that withstands the standard of scrutiny that exists in many countries' system of law with respect to the issue of extradition," Kerry said, adding: "Let me emphasize that we've never had such a request, we've never had such evidence, and we are doing nothing whatsoever to stand in the way of a legitimate process which respects the (U.S. extradition) treaty" with Turkey.

The U.S. State Department warned American citizens to avoid the area around the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul on Monday, saying demonstrations were planned in the area.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.