Turkey seeks arrests of judicial, prison staff in coup probe

Istanbul (AFP) - Turkish authorities on Friday issued dozens of arrest warrants for staff in the judicial and prison systems, the latest swoop against suspects said to be linked to the alleged mastermind of the July 15 coup.

Istanbul prosecutors have sent out warrants for 87 people working in Istanbul courts and 75 wardens and other staff working in prisons, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

There have been regular raids against staff suspected of links to the failed coup in courts but this is believed to be the first time that the prison system has been targeted.

Police raided Istanbul's main court in the district of Caglayan and also those in Gaziosmanpasa and Buyukcekmece in search of the suspects.

Arrest warrants were also issued for staff at the prisons of Silviri, Metris and Bakirkoy in Istanbul as well as their homes. It was not yet clear how many people had been detained in the raids so far.

Those targeted are suspected of links to preacher Fethullah Gulen who had lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999 and who Turkey accuses of being the coup mastermind.

Gulen denies the claims and his supporters ridicule the description of his group by the Turkish authorities as the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO), saying he merely runs a peaceful organisation called Hizmet (Service).

Turkey's Islamic-rooted government, who had a close alliance with Gulen in the early years of its rule, say his supporters infiltrated all sectors of society including the military with the aim of launching the coup that took place on July 15.

The coup bid, which saw war planes bomb Ankara and tanks run amok on the streets, was defeated when supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took to the streets and the Turkish leader returned to Istanbul unharmed.

But the state of emergency after the coup has raised tensions between Turkey and the European Union, which has expressed concerns over the scale of the crackdown that has seen 32,000 people arrested.

Erdogan said this week that the state of emergency imposed after the coup should be extended for another three months when it expires in October.

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