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Turkey marks fourth anniversary of failed coup attempt

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ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey marked the fourth anniversary of an attempted 2016 military coup Wednesday with ceremonies and memorial events for the people who died in the failed effort to overthrow the government that resulted in the arrests of tens of thousands of people. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by civilian “veterans” who fought against the coup, laid a wreath at a memorial in the presidential complex in Ankara and prayed. Erdogan later spoke in parliament and at luncheon and made a televised speech to the nation for the occasion. Factions within Turkey’s military used tanks, warplanes and helicopters to try to overthrow Erdogan’s government on July 15, 2016. A total of 251 people were killed and around 2,200 were wounded as renegade service members fired on people and bombed parliament and other government buildings. Around 35 suspected participants in the coup also died. Turkey has blamed U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally, for the coup attempt. Gulen rejects the accusation. The Turksih government designated his network as a terrorist group, and it was dubbed Fethullahist Terror Organization, or FETO. “We will continue our resolute fight inside our country and abroad until the last FETO member is brought to justice,” Erdogan said at a luncheon for relatives of the coup victim’s he called “martyrs.” The government declared a state of emergency after the failed coup to crackdown on Gulen’s network.Under emergency powers that were in place for two years, tens of thousands of people were arrested for alleged links to the coup and to Gulen and the trials continue. More than 130,000 people were fired from public service jobs through emergency decrees, among them teachers and police officers.Critics say the arrests and dismissals went too far, targeting all opposition to the government under Turkey’s broad anti-terror laws.Erdogan said more than 100 people with purported links to the cleric were caught abroad and brought back to Turkey to stand trial. Schools, cultural centers and associations set up across the world by Gulen’s transnational network were shuttered or transformed into institutions tied to the Turkish government.The U.S. hasn’t extradited the 79-year-old cleric despite repeated requests. In his address to the nation, Erdogan also referred to the recent controversy around Hagia Sophia, the former Byzantine cathedral-turned-mosque in Istanbul that Turkey’s secular founders made into a museum in 1934. Last week, the top administrative court in Turkey annulled the 1934 decision. Erdogan quickly declared the building would return to use as a mosque and be open to worship later this month. The decision sparked criticism in the United States, Greece, and other Western countries as well as from Orthodox Christian leaders. Pope Francis expressed sadness over the move. “We are determined to parry the attacks of terror organizations, just as we raised the call to prayer to the skies from Hagia Sophia 86 years after it was silenced, and like we raised our flag even higher as our sworn enemies tried to bring it down,” Erdogan said.Outside Hagia Sophia on Wednesday, performers dressed in the red Turkish flag’s crescent and star staged a choreographed display of shapes commemorating July 15.
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Top Turkish official denounces Bolton memoir

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A top Turkish official has denounced a memoir by former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, saying it contains ” misleading, one-sided and manipulative” accounts of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s conversations with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump.In a series of tweets, Turkish presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun said the book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” was driven by political considerations and personal gain.“We find it reprehensible that former high-level officials attempt to use serious diplomatic conversations and efforts to resolve outstanding issues between allies like the U.S. and Turkey for their domestic political agendas,” Altun said.Bolton claimed in the memoir that Trump sought to interfere in an investigation into Turkish state-owned bank, Halkbank, in an effort to cut deals with Erdogan.Halkbank was charged with evading U.S. sanctions against Iran by processing billions of dollars of Iranian oil revenue. An indictment said the bank illegally moved about $20 billion in Iranian oil and gas revenues, sometimes disguising money movements as purchases of food and medicine.Altun said Erdogan “clearly outlines Turkey’s priorities and advocates for them vigorously” including the Halkbank issue. Altun tweeted: “We are confident that the US-Turkey relationship will survive such efforts and even thrive at the end. President Erdogan will continue his frank, honest, and straightforward conversations with the U.S. President Donald Trump.”
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Leaders of Turkey and Greece discuss COVID fallout in rare call

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ATHENS/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by phone on Friday, Athens and Ankara said – rare such contact for two neighbours at odds over a range of issues.Mitsotakis and Erdogan addressed ways of handling the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, the reopening of borders and the re-establishment of tourist flows, a statement from Mitsotakis’s office said.“Mr Mitsotakis and Mr Erdogan agreed to keep the bilateral channels of communication open,” it said, a line re-iterated in the statement from the Turkish presidency.Erdogan’s office also said the two discussed tourism, security, as well as cooperation on economic issues and the fight against COVID-19.A Greek source with knowledge of the matter said: “The two leaders didn’t discuss high policy matters, but they did agree that tension is relatively high and that channels of communication must be restored.“There cannot be a de-escalation of tensions if the two sides don’t talk.”Though NATO partners and neighbours, Greece and Turkey have testy relations and differences on issues as diverse as airspace rights, maritime boundaries and ethnically-divided Cyprus.Reporting by Michele Kambas and Renee Maltezou in Athens, and Can Sezer in Istanbul; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Jonathan Spicerfor-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up
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Brazil Senate approves bill on ‘fake news’…

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(Adds details) BRASILIA, June 30 (Reuters) – Brazil’s Senate approved on Tuesday a bill governing rules to fight fake news, with Senate head David Alcolumbre saying it also guarantees social media transparency. The bill’s main text was approved by a 44-32 vote. It still needs to be voted by lower house lawmakers. “We need to understand this universe and recognize that freedom of expression cannot be confused with aggression, violence or threat,” Alcolumbre wrote in his Twitter account. After the main text’s approval, senators also voted on amendments to the bill. “We tried to make the text more concise, ensuring the right of reply and the immediate removal of content in serious situations such as the violation of the rights of children and adolescents, prejudice due to issues of race, ethnicity and national origin,” the bill’s rapporteur, Senator Angelo Coronel, said. (Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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