32,000 in custody for coup bid: Turkey Justice Minister

Istanbul: Around 32,000 people suspected of involvement in the July 16 coup attempt in Turkey remain in police custody, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Wednesday.

Bozdag, in an interview, detailed the figures of those currently going through judicial processes in Turkey as part of a government purge following the failed coup bid, Efe news agency reported.

“Action has been taken against some 70,000 people. Of these, about 32,000 remain in custody, with the process ongoing,” Bozdag said.

The minister said the figure would vary due to possible new arrests, as well as detainees being provisionally released under judge’s orders.

Furthermore, the minister admitted that it was yet unknown how many of the detainees would eventually be found guilty and be sentenced to prison.

Bozdag said authorities took calculated measures against prisoners escaping immediately after the failed coup.

Such measures included the suspension of around 1,500 prison staff with suspected links to the exiled Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen who has been held responsible by Ankara for orchestrating the revolt.

Turkey has petitioned the United States, where Gulen has been living in exile for 17 years, for the extradition of the prominent Islamic cleric.

The minister said US Vice-President Joe Biden had told him that experts had started to collate evidence implicating Gulen in the coup.

He added that once the data had been analysed, Turkey would be notified of the final extradition decision in “one or two days”.

On July 15, an attempted coup d’état against state institutions and the government, left about 300 persons dead and 2,100 others injured. Mass arrests of judges and soldiers and suspension of teachers and other education staff, suspected to have been involved in the coup bid, followed.