More than 81,000 people have been suspended or dismissed from work over suspected links to the group behind the July 15 attempted coup, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Saturday.
In a speech to media figures at Cankaya Palace in Ankara, he said 76,597 had been suspended and 4,897 dismissed. Of those sacked, more than 3,000 were military staff, judges and civil servants.
Yildirim said the government would distinguish between those willingly involved in the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) behind the coup and those who were caught up in the movement “by chance”.
“We have difficulties in detection,” he said. “What will we do? We have set certain criteria. I think we need to distinguish between the ones who were involved in this organization voluntarily and intentionally and the ones who had some connections with them by chance.”
Yildirim hosted scores of media figures at his official residence to acknowledge the role played in helping defeat the coup bid. TV stations in particular were instrumental in revealing the coup attempt in progress and one broadcast President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call for people to take to the streets to resist.
He also mentioned “communication networks” established by FETO involving more than 50,000 people. “There are more than 50,000 names on this communication infrastructure,” he said. “These will be searched.”
Yildirim expressed his disappointment in the Western media's post-coup coverage, criticizing them for discussing "what the coup plotters did wrong" immediately after July 15.
"Instead of saying 'Turkey defeated the coup plotters and democracy won', they said 'They [coup plotters] would be successful if they hadn't done this and that', discussing the faults of the coup attempters. They suggested to be more careful next time," Yildirim said and added: "It must be a joke, but no."
Yildirim said the West started seeing the realities and changing their stance following the big democracy rally on Aug. 7 in Istanbul .
"They wanted the coup attempt to be like in Egypt, but it is not Egypt, it's Turkey. That was what they couldn't estimate," he said.
Asked about Turkey's strict stance regarding the U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen's extradition process, Yildirim said: "There is no other way to compromise than to bring the terrorist leader [Gulen] to justice in Turkey."
"After the price Turkey had paid... We have 240 martyrs, 2,195 injured, apart from other damages, social, psychological and financial damages. While everything is so obvious, there cannot be a compromise," Yildirim added.
Yildirim also urged that if the U.S. remained impassive to Ankara's demands, then "it failed to understand the common feelings of 79 million [Turks]."
Yildirim went on to say that the U.S will send a technical committee and lawyers on Aug. 22 before U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's arrival in Turkey on Aug. 24.
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