* Doctors, nurses, tax inspectors among those sacked
* Turkey blames U.S-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for coup
* Erdogan says cleric's network not yet fully cleansed
* European lawmakers want end to EU membership talks
(Adds Erdogan quotes, European Parliament)
By Tuvan Gumrukcu and Nick Tattersall
ANKARA/ISTANBUL, Nov 22 Turkey dismissed 15,000
more state employees on Tuesday, from soldiers and police
officers to tax inspectors and midwives, and shut 375
institutions and several news outlets, deepening purges carried
out since a failed coup.
The dismissals, announced in two decrees, bring to more than
125,000 the number of people sacked or suspended in the
military, civil service, judiciary and elsewhere since July's
coup attempt. About 36,000 have been jailed pending trial in the
crackdown condemned by Western allies and rights groups.
President Tayyip Erdogan said the measures had significantly
weakened the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose
followers are blamed by Ankara for infiltrating state
institutions over several decades and carrying out the attempted
But he made clear the purges were not yet over.
"We know they have not been completely cleansed. They are
still present in our military, in our police force, in our
judiciary," he told a conference on policing in his palace.
"We will not leave our country to them, we will not let them
consume this nation. We will do whatever is necessary," he said.
The coup and its aftermath have shaken confidence in the
stability of Turkey, a NATO member key to the fight against
Islamic State and a bulwark for Europe against the conflicts
raging in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.
The crackdown has covered a vast range of professions -
often where links to Gulen's network are unclear - including
doctors, nurses and midwives. Dismissals are announced in the
Official Gazette with no reasons given beyond "membership of, or
links to, terrorist organisations or groups deemed to be acting
against national security interests".
Some of the accused have been targeted for having accounts
with a bank once controlled by Gulen's followers, being members
of an opposition union, or using a smartphone messaging app seen
by the authorities as a Gulenist communications tool, according
to Turkish media reports.
European allies have criticised the breadth of the purges,
and EU parliament lawmakers called on Tuesday for a freezing of
Turkey's EU membership talks. A senior U.N. official has
described the measures as "draconian" and "unjustified".
Erdogan has rejected such criticism, saying Turkey is
determined to root out its enemies at home and abroad, and could
reintroduce the death penalty. He has accused Western nations of
siding with coup plotters and of harbouring terrorists.
'SOLD THEIR SOULS'
Ankara blames Gulen and his network, which it refers to as
the "Gulenist Terror Organisation" (FETO), for the events of
July 15, in which more than 240 people were killed as rogue
soldiers commandeered tanks, fighter jets and helicopters,
bombing parliament and other key buildings.
Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania
in the United States since 1999, denies involvement.
"There is no place in this ... land drenched with the blood
of martyrs for those who sold their souls to Pennsylvania, the
separatist terrorist organisation, or any other illegal
organisation," Erdogan said.
He frequently uses "Pennsylvania" as shorthand for the
cleric's network. The "separatist organisation" is a reference
to the Kurdish PKK group, which has waged a three-decade
insurgency for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey's southeast.
Nearly 2,000 members of the armed forces, 7,600 police
officers, 400 members of the gendarmerie, and more than 5,000
public workers, including nurses, doctors and engineers, were
dismissed in Tuesday's decrees for suspected links to terrorist
The Official Gazette made clear they would not be able to
claim any severance or seek any other job in public service. The
decrees were issued under the emergency rule imposed in the wake
of the failed coup, which allows Erdogan and the government to
Erdogan's opponents say the purges go well beyond a
crackdown on suspected Gulenists and are being used to crush
dissent. Those accused are often unable to find other work and
ostracised in their community, with Turkish media reports saying
some have committed suicide before their trials can begin.
Pro-Kurdish politicians have been detained in a parallel
crackdown, accused of links to the PKK, including the leaders of
parliament's second-largest opposition grouping the Peoples'
Democratic Party (HDP).
On top of Tuesday's decrees, authorities issued arrest
warrants for 60 people, including air force pilots in the
central city of Konya, over suspected Gulenist links. More than
300 pilots have already been detained or dismissed.
In another operation around Istanbul, 19 prison staff
including the warden of Turkey's largest jail Silivri were held
on suspicion of using smartphone messaging app ByLock, which
authorities say is used by Gulen's network.
A trial also began on Tuesday of Gulen, in absentia, and 72
other people accused of trying to overthrow Turkey's government.
The case pre-dates the coup attempt, but is likely to be
expanded to include charges related to the events of July 15.
Arrest warrants were also issued for 22 executives from
telecoms firm Turk Telekom, the Hurriyet newspaper
said. It said 12 of them had been detained in an operation
spanning four provinces. Turk Telekom shares fell 0.7 percent,
underperforming a 0.5 percent rise on the Istanbul stock index.
Tuesday's decrees also announced the closure of 375
institutions or associations, including minority rights groups,
lawyers' associations and women's groups. The decrees also shut
18 charities and nine media outlets. Turkey has closed more than
130 media outlets since July.
Guy Verhofstadt, head of the Liberals in the European
Parliament, said the assembly was calling for EU officials to
suspend negotiations with Turkey over membership of the bloc.
"Dozens of media outlets closed, members of parliament
penalised or put in jail, there is a debate on the death
penalty, there is more and more political control of the
judiciary ... Our relationship with Turkey becomes more and more
of a liability," he told a news conference on Tuesday.
(Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in Istanbul, Jan
Strupczewski in Brussels; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Pravin