July 2016 Military Coup in Turkey

Turkey plans to build mosque on site of Istanbul's first beer factory
Parts of the historic Bomonti beer factory complex are seen in Istanbul, Turkey, September 4, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Turkey's first modern beer factory could face demolition after being transferred to the country's highest religious authority, which plans to build a mosque and a car park in its place, architects and engineers say.

Turkey says it faces up to $3 billion in trade losses with Britain under no-deal Brexit
FILE PHOTO: A flag depicting the British Union Jack design and the EU design is seen outside of the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Turkey may lose trade with Britain worth up to $3 billion in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said on Wednesday, adding that many Turkish companies lacked information on the consequences of such a scenario.
Turkey begins receiving Russian missiles in challenge to U.S. and NATO
TEL AVIV – Israeli intelligence company ImageSat International has released satellite images of a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system that was recently supplied to Turkey.
The company says the systems are in operational mode and were deployed in Ankara.

The images posted on Twitter show what the company describes as missile and radar components of the S-400 system. However, ImageSat International states that the launchers are not loaded. It is likely that the components arrived in the second delivery phase of the Russian system after the first phase in July 2019.

According to the company, the current facilities are for testing and the alleged systems may still be relocated to a permanent place.

“However, we cannot exclude this location from being permanent,” the statement concludes.

RevContent InArticle SOLO

Supply of S-400 to Turkey

The second phase of delivery of the S-400 to Turkey began on 27 August.

In late July 2019, Russia completed the first phase of delivery of S-400 components under the contract signed by Moscow and Ankara in September 2017.

The US has stated that the S-400 is incompatible with NATO air defense systems. After that, Washington announced the decision to suspend Turkey’s participation in the international F-35 fighter production and sale program due to the purchase of Russian anti-aircraft weaponry, adding that Ankara will be completely removed from the project by March 2020. Under this program, Turkey had ordered over 100 F-35 fighters.

Despite US pressure, Turkey has refused to relinquish its contract with Russia.

If the US refuses to sell or hand over its F-35 fighters to Turkey, or “violates bilateral agreements,” Ankara has no choice but to choose an “alternative,” said the Turkish parliament.

“Turkey is forced to buy all kinds of equipment and weapons to build its power and ensure the safety of both air and land, our geographical and strategic location forces us to do that,” said MP Hassan Turan, member of the Russia-Turkey Interparliamentary Friendship Group.

The legislator goes on to say that Turkey needs to ensure its safety first and foremost, emphasizing that the country “needs to update technology and weapons in its arsenal if it wants to ensure the safety of its airspace independently.”

“Today, the most modern and high-tech fighters are the American F-35 and the Russian Su-57… We will not leave our airspace without whim protection from anyone,” he adds.

The Turkish legislator’s comments came just days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s appointment that Ankara could be forced to consider other options, such as Russia’s Su-35 and Su-57 jets.

August 27, 2019

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 13:39
This is a first: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday suggested Turkey should seek its own nuclear weapons in comments sure to gain Washington's attention at a moment NATO's most controversial member is busy deploying Russia's S-400 anti-air defense system.

During a televised speech in which he ranted against rivals and moderates within his own Justice and Development Party (AKP) Erdogan said, “They say we can’t have nuclear tipped missiles though some have them. This, I can’t accept,” according to Turkey's Ahval news.
"I don’t accept this," he said. "The US and Russia have them. Every developing nation has them."
He pointed out that Turkey had in the past been unfairly denied weapons deals by allied nations, which led to Turkish ingenuity in producing its own weaponry.

Erdogan also reportedly invoked Israel's 'unofficial' or undeclared nuclear stockpile during his speech, saying that because Israel has nuclear weapons, "no one can touch them".

Turkey is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1980, and further signed the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear tests for any purpose. The country does store US-supplied NATO 'tactical nukes,' however.

His comments were part of a broader theme attacking "rebels" within AKP who are seeking to possibly establish new political parties as "weakening" and splintering the nation.

In reference to Turkey's deeply controversial reception of the first round of S-400 components, and with the second procurement currently in process of delivery, Erdogan said, “This of course adds a completely different power to our defense system. Whatever we have done in the past 18 years has been for the people of Turkey.”

Ironically Erdogan had previously been on record as blasting nuclear armed countries as unjustly "threatening the world" with their powerful weapons. The past comments were made as he reacted to the May 2018 White House withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

“Those who have more than 15,000 nuclear warheads are currently threatening the world,” he said at the time. The vast majority of the world's nukes belong to Russia and the United States.

Though not verified, over the past years there have been occasional reports from Turkish journalists alleging Erdogan has sought to expand Turkey's arsenal to include atomic bombs.

On September 4, the Turkish military resupplied its besieged observation post south of the Syrian town of Murak in the northern Hama countryside.

Enab Baladi, a pro-opposition outlet, said that four Turkish vehicles, carrying food, entered the government-held part of the northern Hama countryside and headed towards the besieged observation post.
“The Turkish vehicles came from Maar Hattat post in the outskirt of Ma`arat al-Nu`man in southern Idlib, they took the highway passing through Khan Shaykhun until they reached Murak,” the outlet’s reporter said.
Last month, the SAA besieged Murak’s observation post after clearing the militants’ positons in northern Hama. Units of the Russian Military Police were deployed around the post later.

Turkey had refused to withdraw the post, which was established last year in the framework of the Astana Process. The country’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu even denied that the post is besieged by the Syrian military.

Published on Sep 3, 2019
Erdogan in New York to attend UN General Assembly

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States on September 25, 2018. [Kayhan Özer/Anadolu Agency]

September 22, 2019 - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday arrived in New York to attend the 74th session of UN General Assembly, Anadolu Agency reported.

Erdogan was received at John F. Kennedy International Airport by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s UN Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu and Turkey’s Ambassador to Washington Serdar Kilic.

Earlier, Erdogan said he would address international peace and security issues at the UN General Assembly on the first day of the General Debate on Sept. 24.

He also announced Ambassador Volkan Bozkir’s nomination for the 75th UN General Assembly presidency till September 2021.

Turkish FM meets UN chief in New York

Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu meets United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres ahead of the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States on September 20, 2019. [Cem Özdel/Anadolu Agency]

September 20, 2019 - Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met Friday with the UN chief here as the international body gathered to kick off the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, Anadolu Agency reports.

Cavusoglu told reporters he had a “useful” meeting with Antonio Guterres and discussed a range of issues, including Syria and the constitutional committee for the war-torn country. The meeting was closed to the media.

He said UN Special Envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen will go to Damascus, Syria and meet with the regime Monday. “After this meeting, we can say when we will announce the constitutional committee,” Cavusoglu said.

On Wednesday, Guterres said an agreement had been reached on the formation of a committee to draft a new Constitution for Syria.

Pedersen was “doing the final work with the parties in relation to the terms of reference, and we hope that this will be very soon concluded,” he said.
How Russian-Turkish ‘Safe Zone’ Deal Shapes Course Of Syrian ConflictOct 24, 2019
Oct 24, 2019 / 4:41

Faylaq al-Majd (SNA) ATGM strike destroyed a YPG-operated HMMWV N. of Ain Issa in NE Syria. Probably the first time I've seen this vehicle type targeted with ATGM in Syria Graphic
Hugo Kaaman@HKaaman

Still more fall-out over the 2016 failed Turkish Coup. Jail sentences have been handed down to seven "opposition" journalist.

Interesting situation here ... Erdogan wants to dig a deep canal on the edge of Istanbul. There's been heavy opposition against digging this canal which includes the newly elected Mayor. The estimated cost of this project runs around the $12.6 Billion mark. Why would Erdogan invest that kind of money ... what does he hope to gain from this little venture? Well, I think - he's been working on plans that will net a heavy profit margin?

What advantages would this canal produce? It would connect the Black Sea in the north to the Sea of Marmara, which eventually runs into the Mediterranean. I think, the key word here is - the Mediterranean? Turkey has been drilling oil and gas - off the coast of Cyprus, Italy. Cyprus claims Turkey's activities are illegal. Erdogan has threaten to use military force to protect his drilling operations. In the last few weeks, Erdogan has signed a deal/agreement with the U.N. recognized Libyan Government - to supply Military Troops, if requested and which also gives Turkey drilling rights (oil-gas) in Libyan coastal waters - in the Mediterranean.

Erdogan needs that "crazy" Istanbul canal to transport his oil tankers from the Mediterranean to Turkey. Not so crazy but it does open up a security issue - which concerns "Russia, Ukraine and other Black Sea states, the canal raises tricky questions about shipping and naval passage."

Turkish court sentences to jail seven at opposition newspaper
A Turkish court on Friday handed down jail sentences to seven journalists and other staffers at opposition newspaper Sozcu over aiding a network that Ankara says orchestrated a failed coup in 2016, the paper said.

Factbox: Erdogan pushes 'crazy' Istanbul canal dream despite opposition
FILE PHOTO: The Russian Navy's landing ship Azov sails in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul, Turkey, November 23, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
President Tayyip Erdogan has revived plans to dig a canal on the edge of Istanbul despite opposition from hundreds of petitioners and the city's new mayor against the kind of mega project that has come to define Turkey's economic boom and bust.

Last year Turkey effectively paused the project, estimated to cost 75 billion lira ($12.6 billion), as the economy tipped into recession. But in recent weeks Erdogan has put building the 45-km (28-mile) ‘Kanal Istanbul’ atop his domestic agenda, raising concerns from environmentalists and architects.

The 400 metre-wide canal planned to the west of Istanbul would connect the Black Sea in the north to the Sea of Marmara, which eventually runs into the Mediterranean. It would ease shipping congestion on the picturesque Bosphorus, a natural strait that intersects Turkey’s largest city.

The proposed canal would run through a lagoon whose ecosystem, vital for marine animals and migratory birds, would be destroyed, according to the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB).

The group says it would demolish two basins that provide nearly a third of the city’s fresh water; increase the salinity of underground streams, harming agricultural land as well to the west; and raise oxygen levels in the Black Sea.

For Russia, Ukraine and other Black Sea states, the canal raises tricky questions about shipping and naval passage.

The 1936 Montreux Convention gives Turkey control over the straits within its borders, and during peacetime guarantees access for civilian vessels. It also limits access of naval warships, helping to protect the Black Sea from militarization.

But a Turkish official said on Thursday the Montreux Convention would not cover the canal.

“Kanal Istanbul would possibly open the door to U.S. warships in the Black Sea. That is the fear in Moscow,” said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat and visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels.

Hundreds in Istanbul sign petitions against Erdogan's canal project
Demonstrators shout slogans during a prototest against a massive canal project in Istanbul, Turkey, December 27, 2019. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir
Hundreds of people in Istanbul have signed petitions in the past two days opposing a massive canal project championed by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, which they say will wreak environmental havoc in the city.

Turkey's parliament ratifies security accord with Libya: report
Turkey's parliament approved on Saturday a security and military cooperation deal signed with Libya's internationally recognized government last month, state media reported, an agreement that could pave the way for military help from Ankara.

Turkey says its claim to a large swath of the Mediterranean is bolstered by an agreement it signed with Libya's U.N.-recognized government that delineates the two countries' maritime borders.

Turkey Doesn't Rule Out Force to Halt Drilling off Cyprus

As proposed in the last Posting, it seems Erdogan is using "maritime zones" to profit from oil and gas drilling? Sending Military Troops to Libya has a double purpose - to give backing to the U.N. backed Libyan Government and to protect Turkey's drilling operations.

Turkey speeds up Libya troop deployment deal to prevent slide into 'chaos'
FILE PHOTO: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to media next to Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu after the Global Refugee Forum at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, December 17, 2019, REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
Turkey's Foreign Minister warned that the Libyan conflict risks sliding into chaos and becoming the next Syria, as he sought to speed up legislation to allow it to send troops to the North African country.

Greece proposes World Court if maritime dialogue with Turkey fails
Greece's Prime Minister
said in remarks published on Sunday that if Athens and Ankara cannot solve their dispute about maritime zones in the Mediterranean they should turn to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to settle the disagreement.

Turkey to evacuate wounded after deadly Mogadishu blast
A Turkish military cargo plane prepares to evacuate victims of the car bomb explosion at the Afgoye junction, for specialised treatment, at the Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu, December 29, 2019. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
A Turkish military cargo plane landed in the Somali capital on Sunday to evacuate people badly wounded in a devastating truck bombing in the city a day earlier that killed at least 90 people including two Turkish nationals.

Death toll in Mogadishu bombing rises to at least 90: international organization

At least 90 people were killed in a truck bombing in Mogadishu on Saturday, according to a report from an international organization working in Somalia.
It took 16 judges to convict Kurdish politicians Gultan Kisanak and Sebahat Tuncel of belonging to a terrorist organization last year.

Special Report: How Turkey’s courts turned on Erdogan's foes
FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin (not pictured) following their talks in Moscow, Russia March 5, 2020.  To match Special Report TURKEY-JUDGES/ Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS/

May 4, 2020 - Their trial in Diyarbakir, the biggest city in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast, was concluded in just a dozen sessions, but during that time the three-judge panel was in constant flux. The women, who maintain their innocence, were brought to court only once - to hear the “guilty” verdict.

Their lawyer, Cihan Aydin, said mounting a proper defence was all but impossible because he never knew who was going to be sitting in judgment. The judges, several of them young and inexperienced, were switched without explanation. “The chief judge was changed four times as well,” said Aydin, a human rights lawyer and chair of the local bar association. “At every hearing there was a new group of judges, and every time we had to start the defence from the beginning.”

The tumult turned the proceedings on their head. “It was impossible for the judges to read the thousands of pages in the case file, so each time we had to summarize and explain what was in the indictment,” Aydin said. “It became our job to teach the judges.” The court declined to comment about the case.

Terrorist charges like the ones used to convict the two women have become commonplace in Turkey, especially since a failed attempt by parts of the military to overthrow President Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. Mass arrests followed.

Also increasingly common is the practice of switching judges during a trial, more than a dozen lawyers and other legal sources told Reuters. Turkish officials say such changes are merely routine, for health or administrative reasons. Lawyers interviewed by Reuters say they are convinced it’s a way for the government to exert control over the courts.

“The constant reshuffling of judges is a simple but very useful mechanism. For every time the government gets involved like this in the judiciary, there are hundreds more cases where the judges learn their lesson” not to act against perceived government interests, said Gareth Jenkins, a political analyst based in Istanbul.

Neither Erdogan’s office nor the justice ministry responded to detailed questions for this article by the time of publication. Mehmet Yilmaz, deputy chairman of the Council of Judges and Prosecutors, the state-body that appoints law officials, said Turkey’s legal system is “not behind any country in the world.”

The judiciary has been used as an instrument to advance political agendas in Turkey for decades. Under Erdogan, his opponents say, it has been deployed as a political cudgel and hollowed out to an unprecedented degree.

Under his purge, thousands of judges and prosecutors have been sacked, by the government’s own count. They have been replaced by inexperienced newcomers, ill-equipped to handle the dramatic spike in workload from coup-related prosecutions. At least 45% of Turkey’s roughly 21,000 judges and prosecutors now have three years of experience or less, Reuters calculated from Ministry of Justice data.

“We aren’t claiming that the judiciary was independent from governments before,” said Zeynel Emre, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). “However, a period like this where the government wields the judiciary like a sword on politics and especially the opposition is unprecedented.”

At the time of their arrest in late 2016, Kisanak and Tuncel were prominent figures in the Kurdish minority’s decades-long campaign for social, economic and political equality. Kisanak, 58, a former journalist, had recently been elected Diyarbakir’s mayor. Tuncel, 44, was a lawmaker in parliament, representing an Istanbul constituency. They were jailed for 14 and 15 years, respectively, for spreading terrorist propaganda and belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey and branded a terrorist organization by the U.S. and EU. They denied the charges.

Istanbul Bar Association chairman Mehmet Durakoglu said that by using the judiciary as a tool against its opponents, Erdogan’s government “has achieved what it couldn’t do by political means” at the ballot box. The Turkish government counters that its legal system is as advanced as any Western country and that threats against its national security require strict anti-terrorism laws.

Yilmaz, from the state Council of Judges and Prosecutors, acknowledged “we have been experiencing problems like an increase in work. Our workload is considerably above the global average.”

Erdogan has towered over Turkish politics for nearly two decades, first as prime minister, from 2003 to 2014, and since then as president.

There have been challenges to his rule. In 2013, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest policies they deemed authoritarian. The trigger was a government plan to build on a small park in downtown Istanbul. Two years later, peace talks broke down between the government and the militant PKK, which for decades had been waging a violent separatist campaign. In July 2016 came the coup attempt.

On each occasion, the authorities responded with a crackdown.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the second-biggest opposition party in Turkey’s parliament, says thousands of its members and supporters have been detained or jailed since the collapse of peace talks between Turkish authorities and the PKK. Among them is the party’s former co-leader, Selahattin Demirtas, who has been held since 2016 on terrorism charges that he denies.

Lawyers defending HDP supporters have also faced prosecution. In 2017, Aydin, the chairman of the Diyarbakir lawyers’ bar, was fined for disrupting court proceedings. The complaint stemmed from 2012, when Aydin and other defence lawyers walked out of a mass trial of Kurdish activists accused of belonging to the PKK. Aydin and his colleagues were protesting the court’s decision to dismiss their clients from the chamber. The case against Aydin was only brought up five years later.

The practice of keeping watch over lawyers and activists “is also part of the same trend, the same mentality, keeping track of everyone and making sure there is a file ready against everyone, just in case,” said Aydin. “If you start talking too much, if you criticise the government too much, if you take on high profile cases, or in my case, if you become a famous lawyer.”

Prosecutions have extended to academics. Around four dozen academics were convicted of spreading terrorist propaganda for signing a petition in 2016 that called for an end to the conflict with Kurdish militants and criticised the Turkish military’s campaign in the Kurdish southeast. They were sentenced to up to three years in jail.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court, which oversees laws, overturned the verdicts last year, ruling the prosecutions violated academics’ right to freedom of expression. A few days later, responding to criticism of its decision by some politicians and media, the court issued a statement saying the ruling “does not mean that the Constitutional Court shares the same opinions or supports these opinions.”

Yonca Demir, an academic at Istanbul Bilgi University was among the more than 2,000 signatories to the petition that sparked the mass arrest. She called her trial a sham.

“Whatever you say in court has no impact whatsoever on the judges. From the indictment to the rulings, everything was a copy-paste,” Demir said. “Yes, everyone has political views, but they should stick to the law. Instead, they show their ideologies in court.”

Erdogan blamed U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for orchestrating the failed 2016 coup and set about purging his supporters from public office. Gulen denies any involvement.

Nearly four years later, more than 91,000 people have been jailed and over 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs over alleged links to Gulen. Charges include using the services of a bank founded by Gulen’s followers and communicating through an encrypted messaging app that Ankara says was used by Gulen’s network.

The purge has hollowed out Turkey’s justice system even as the caseload has exploded. By last November, 3,926 judges and prosecutors had been sacked from their posts, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul told parliament. More than 500 are in jail. The expulsions have resulted in a shortage of experienced judges and prosecutors, the president of Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals, Ismail Rustu Cirit, told Reuters.

The purges have added to the workload of Turkey’s judicial system. More than half a million people have been investigated since the coup attempt. As of late 2019, around 30,000 were still awaiting trial as the courts try to process the vast number of coup-related cases. Some suspects have been jailed for months without an indictment or a trial date.

Speaking last year at a ceremony to honour the police, Erdogan said that authorities had still not fully rooted out Gulen’s followers and Turkey could not and would not let up in its crackdown. Erdogan’s lawyer, Huseyin Aydin, told Reuters the coup trials were “the fairest proceedings in modern Turkish history.”

The laws were applied to the letter, said Aydin, who isn’t related to the human-rights attorney. “When we look at the general Turkish judicial traditions, these are cases that have most accurately obeyed the principles of law,” Aydin said. “Our judiciary is passing the test with flying colours.”

Not all Turkey’s lawyers agree. In August, 51 of the country’s 81 bar associations, including those of its three largest cities of Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir, boycotted a judges’ ceremony at Erdogan’s presidential palace. The choice of venue, they said, signalled a lack of separation of powers and violated their code of ethics. The Ankara bar association said Turkey’s judicial system had descended into chaos with lawyers jailed, the defence muzzled and confidence in judges and prosecutors destroyed.

New waves of arrests continue, most recently over online criticism of the government’s response to the global coronavirus outbreak. The Interior Ministry said last week that 402 people had been detained for “baseless and provocative posts” about the pandemic.

The Young Ones
Acknowledging his ministry’s struggles with personnel, Justice Minister Gul told parliament last year that Turkey was aiming to increase the number of judges and prosecutors.

Figures from Turkey’s Board of Judges and Prosecutors show at least 9,323 new judges and prosecutors have been recruited since the coup attempt. That means that at least 45% of Turkey’s roughly 21,000 judges and prosecutors have three years of experience or less.

Hakki Koylu, chairman of the Justice Commission in Turkey’s parliament and a lawmaker for Erdogan’s AK Party, acknowledged to Reuters that some judges and prosecutors “have been appointed without adequate training.”

“Unfortunately, it all happens quite haphazardly,” Koylu said. “We see some of the rulings they make. Now we can only hope that the upper courts correct these rulings” upon appeal. But the Supreme Court of Appeals, the highest appeals court, has been hollowed out too.

Cirit, the court’s president, told Reuters the appointment of judges with less than five years experience to the Supreme Court of Appeals “poses risks not only for the reasonable duration of proceedings, but also for the right to a fair trial.” New judges often lack experience, a dozen lawyers and current and former judges said.

“I became a judge in a criminal court at the age of 48,” said Koksal Sengun, who retired in 2013. Now, after the widespread dismissals and new appointments, Sengun said, the average age of judges in some provinces has fallen to 25. He didn’t say what data his observation about the average age was based on.

“In my opinion, the minimum age for criminal court should be 40. Maybe even higher,” Sengun said. “You have to climb the stairs one by one. In the current system, they are appointed so early.” That lack of training leaves newcomers with too little of the emotional and mental toughness needed in the job, he argued. “These judges have three or five years experience, sitting at the top of a court that hands down the heaviest sentences. These kids come under such pressure, and get crushed. You can’t expect much from such a young judge.”

The impact of such inexperience goes beyond criminal cases. Yesim, a commercial lawyer practicing in Istanbul, described chaotic proceedings in one case. She spoke on condition that her full name not be used.

The case, she said, was “very simple,” a dispute over a small debt involving two companies. The judge had no trouble making the ruling. Then, to Yesim’s surprise, he sought a favor. “The judge, who seemed younger than 25, asked me, ‘Ms. Lawyer, can you help me with writing the verdict? I am not sure about the style.’ I couldn’t help but laugh, but we wrote the ruling together,” she said.

Turkey shows no sign of changing course. After the attempted coup, the country cancelled a European Union training program for Turkish judicial officials and opted to train its judges and prosecutors itself. The European Commission wrote in its annual 2019 report that large scale recruitments of new judges and prosecutors are “concerning.” Turkey countered that the EU’s criticisms were unfair and disproportionate.

Lawyer Veysel Ok has defended several journalists against accusations they are part of Gulen’s network. He was awarded last year’s international Thomas Dehler Medal, named for the German lawyer who defended Jewish citizens against Nazi persecution, in recognition of his work in defence of freedom of speech and the rule of law. Ok said young judges are being promoted because of their political connections, with little life experience, let alone professional experience.

“This is, by itself, an injustice,” Ok said. “In the past, we used to research the judges when they were appointed to a case we were representing, and we would adjust our defence according to past rulings they’d handed down and their political views.” Times have changed, he joked darkly. “Now we don’t have to, because we know they are all pro-government.”

Slideshow (7 Images)
Special Report: How Turkey’s courts turned on Erdogan's foes
ISTANBUL July 3, 2020 - A series of large explosions shook a fireworks factory in northwest Turkey’s Sakarya province on Friday, killing two people and wounding 73, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Blasts at Turkish fireworks factory kill two, wound 73

An aerial view of the firework factory following a blast is seen from a helicopter of Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, in Hendek in Sakarya province, Turkey, July 3, 2020. Turkish Interior Ministry/Handout

Fire crews fought to contain the blaze ignited by an initial blast at 11.15 am (0815 GMT) in the province's Hendek district, Turkey's disaster and emergency management directorate AFAD said in a statement, describing it as an industrial accident.

Some 85 ambulances and two helicopters were among emergency vehicles sent to the complex, Koca wrote on Twitter, adding President Tayyip Erdogan had instructed him to go to the scene.

Video footage obtained by Reuters showed smoke billowing from the complex as firework explosions rang out and a huge plume of smoke rose into the sky. The initial blast was heard up to 50 km (31 miles) away, state-owned Anadolu news agency said. Turkey's interior and labour ministers also went to Sakarya to monitor the situation, Anadolu said.

Turkey blast: 2 dead, 73 injured in explosion at Turkish fireworks factory
Turkey blast

Explosion at a Turkish fireworks factor. Image: Twitter

A series of large explosions shook a fireworks factory in northwest Turkey's Sakarya province on Friday, killing two people and wounding 73, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

The Empire’s 2016 Coup in Turkey
•Jan 22, 2021 Tales of the American Empire
On July 15, 2016, a military coup in Turkey attempted to overthrow its popular elected president. More than 250 people were killed, parliament was bombed, and bridges seized. The coup quickly failed. It is unclear if the American empire organized the coup, but there is no doubt the Americans knew a coup was planned and encouraged it. The hard proof was the evacuation of American military and diplomatic families from Turkey four months prior. (Links Within)

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