Turkish officials said anyone who calls a recent attempted coup against the government a hoax will be investigated for potentially being involved in the failed takeover. The armed uprising saw 250 people killed on July 15 and has prompted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to crack down on educators, journalists and the military in recent days.
Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said critics who claim the coup was a staged event aimed at rallying support for the government could face jail time. "Just look at the people who are saying on social media that this was theater. Public prosecutors are already investigating them," he said Sunday.
Erdogan said the thousands of arrests his government has carried out since the coup will "cleanse all state institutions" and stop efforts to create "the parallel state." That's what he calls the alleged movement by Fethullah Gülen, a former Erdogan ally living in the United States who was accused of orchestrating the coup.
Turkey remains in a three-month state of emergency that allows Erdogan to pass laws without parliamentary approval. Turkey has also shuttered 15 universities, 934 other schools, 109 student dormitories, 19 unions and 35 medical institutions amid the investigation into the coup. Critics said Erdogan's swifts efforts to consolidate power in the hours after the coup suggest that perhaps the attempted takeover was carried out his supporters.
"More surprising for me is the amateurishness of the attempted coup on the night of July 15. As a veteran observer of military coups and coup attempts in Turkey, I have never seen any with this magnitude of such inexplicable sloppiness," wrote Cengiz Candar, a columnist for Al-Monitor's Turkey Pulse. "The swiftness and scope of the action of the executive branch was remarkable. It gave the impression that Erdogan and the government were prepared for a coup attempt and had ample intelligence as to who in the state system would be associated with it."
Gülen, who lives in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, also claims the military uprising could have been "staged" by the government, the Guardian reported.
"I don’t believe that the world believes the accusations made by President Erdoğan," Gülen said. "There is a possibility that it could be a staged coup and it could be meant for further accusations [against Gülen and his followers]."
Human rights group Amnesty International has accused Turkey of beating and torturing suspects linked to the coup.
"We're looking for procedures to be followed, for lawyers to have access, for family members to be informed that their relatives have been detained," Amnesty's Turkey researcher, Andrew Gardner told The Associated Press. "We need to see proper medical care for people in detention, which isn't happening either. But also it's crucial that there are international monitors allowed to enter these places of detention."