ANKARA: Turkey has dismissed over 900 public sector officials in the latest wave of the purge that followed last year’s failed coup, according to an emergency decree published on Friday.

A second decree said Turkey’s National Inte­lligence Organisation (MIT), which was previously under the prime minister, would now report to the president, expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers over public institutions.

In another example of his growing control over major institutions, the president has been able to choose university rectors since a controversial emergency decree last October.

More than 140,000 people have been sacked or suspended including judges and prosecutors since July 2016 over alleged links to US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey has accused of ordering the attempted coup. Gulen has denied the charges.

More than 50,000 people including journalists have been arrested under the state of emergency imposed last year in a crackdown that has triggered international concern.

Critics have accused the government of using the state of emergency to crack down on all forms of opposition. But Turkish authorities insist it is necessary to ensure Turkey’s security from the multiple threats it faces from Gulen and Kurdish militants.

A total of 928 people were sacked in the latest decree, including civil servants working in the defence, foreign and interior ministries as well as military personnel.

Turkish authorities also stripped 10 retired brigadier generals of their rank.—AFP

But the decree said 57 civil servants and military personnel returned to their jobs, including 28 from the justice ministry and related institutions.

Another 734 security personnel returned to their jobs after being suspended over suspected links to Gulen, the national security directorate said in a statement on its website.

Six organisations, including three media outlets in the southeast, were shut down including Dicle Media News Agency, based in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir.

Dozens of media outlets including newspapers and broadcasters have been closed down since July last year.

The second decree also gave the Turkish intelligence agency the power to investigate the defence ministry and Turkish armed forces personnel.

Erdogan’s authorisation would be needed for the intelligence chief to be investigated under the new decree.

The president would also need to approve any request made for the MIT head, currently Hakan Fidan, to act as a witness in court.

The presidency will also head a new body called the National Intelligence Coordination Board (MIKK).

The move appears to be part of measures taken to implement changes approved in the April referendum on expanding Erdogan’s powers to create an executive presidency.

Most of the measures are due to come into effect after the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections.

The latest decree also created 32,014 roles in the national security directorate, including 22,000 police officers, as well as 4,000 judges and prosecutors.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2017

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