Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday told the European Union and the United States to “mind your own business” after the West expressed alarm over the growing crackdown against suspected accomplices in the failed coup.
Turkey has detained over 18,000 people over the coup which Ankara blames on the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, with the relentless crackdown sparking warnings from Brussels that its EU membership bid may be in danger. “Some people give us advice. They say they are worried. Mind your own business! Look at your own deeds,” Erdogan said in a speech at his presidential palace.
“Not a single person has come to give condolences either from the European Union… or from the West,” said Erdogan. “And then they say that ‘Erdogan has got so angry’!” he fumed. “Those countries or leaders who are not worried about Turkey’s democracy, the lives of our people, its future — while being so worried about the fate of the putschists — cannot be our friends.”
Erdogan vowed to take all steps “within the limits of the law” as Turkey seeks legal retribution for the perpetrators of the coup. A Turkish official said 3,500 of those detained have now been released after questioning.
EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said he needed to see “black-and-white facts about how these people are treated”.
“And if there is even the slightest doubt that the (treatment) is improper, then the consequences will be inevitable,” he told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Turkey has also targeted journalists seen as linked to Gulen, causing further international alarm. Twenty detained suspects Friday appeared in front of a judge in Istanbul to decide whether to remand them in custody.
By midnight, six had been placed under arrest including the hugely prominent journalist Nazli Ilicak but the hearings on the other 14 were still in progress, the official Anadolu news agency reported.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu defended the detention of reporters, saying it was necessary to distinguish between coup plotters and those “who are engaged in real journalism”.
The probe into coup plotters widened its scope to the financing of Gulen’s activities in Turkey, with what appeared to be the first major arrests targeting the business world.
Security forces in the central city of Kayseri detained the chairman of the prominent family-owned Boydak Holding company, Mustafa Boydak, and two other top executives, Anadolu said.