ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey on Friday reinstated more than 1,800 civil servants purged after a 2016 failed coup, determining they had no links to the network of a cleric accused of masterminding the putsch, state-run Anadolu news agency said.
Prosecutors last year said they would review legal cases against more than 11,000 people accused of using the ByLock messaging app, finding that some suspects had unintentionally used it after being linked to it from another app.
Turkey outlawed ByLock in the aftermath of the attempted putsch, saying followers of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen used it to communicate on the night of July 15, 2016, when rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and warplanes to attack parliament, killing more than 240 people.
Gulen has denied the charges and condemned the coup.
In a decree in its Official Gazette, the government confirmed it was reinstating 1,823 people to their state jobs, although it did not give reasons why they had been purged or reinstated.
Anadolu said the decision was made after authorities found “no membership, contact or link” to Gulen’s network.
Since the coup attempt, more than 50,000 people, including civil servants and security personnel, have been jailed pending trial and some 150,000 suspended or dismissed from their jobs.
Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies say President Tayyip Erdogan is using the purges as a pretext to muzzle dissent, but the government says the measures are necessary due to the security threats it faces.
Last year, Turkish authorities began freeing some suspects across the country, and the Ankara chief prosecutor had said he would ask for the release of 1,000 suspects.
Separately, 214 other state officers and 48 military personnel were dismissed from their posts and two media outlets were shut down in the same decree.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by David Dolan, William Maclean