Turkey widened on Thursday the purge of public sector employees by dismissing 88 foreign ministry personnel amid fears that Fethullah Gulen, who has been accused of orchestrating the failed July 15-16 coup attempt, could flee his residence in the United States.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey has dismissed 88 employees of the foreign ministry in the latest in a series of purges of suspected supporters of Gulen.
Cavusoglu was speaking to broadcaster NTV.
Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. for years, denies any involvement in the coup, in which at least 246 people, excluding the plotters, were killed.
Turkish authorities have dismissed, suspended or placed under investigation tens of thousands of people in state institutions including government ministries, the armed forces and the police over suspected links to Gulen and his movement.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag also said that Turkey is receiving intelligence that Gulen might flee the U.S.
Bozdag told broadcaster Haberturk TV that Gulen, could travel to Australia, Mexico, Canada, South Africa or Egypt.
Egypt was quick to react to the news.
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said in comments carried by the state news agency MENA that the country has not received any request for political asylum from Gulen.
Egypt would study such a request if it was made, Ismail said.
Meanwhile, two of Turkey’s top generals resigned ahead of a key military meeting expected to agree on a personnel shake-up after the failed coup, local media reported.
Land Forces Chief of Staff General Ihsan Uyar and Training and Doctrine Command head General Kamil Basoglu have stepped down, the private Dogan news agency reported. Both are “Orgeneral,” Turkey’s highest rank for a general.
Their resignations, which have still to be officially confirmed, come just ahead of a meeting of the Supreme Military Council (YAS) in Ankara which is set to agree key personnel changes after the coup.
The government on Wednesday announced the discharge of 149 generals — nearly half the armed forces’ entire contingent of 358 — for complicity in the putsch bid.