Turkey to revoke citizenship of critics abroad with latest decrees

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The Turkish government will be able to revoke the citizenship of critics who fled abroad under state of emergency decrees issued on Friday night.

The new decrees, numbered 679, 680 and 681, authorize the Turkish Cabinet to revoke the citizenship of people under investigation but who remain abroad if they fail to respond to a summons to return to Turkey within three months.

According to government decree No. 680, individuals who are facing administrative or judicial investigation or prosecution over charges of “crimes against the government,” “armed rebellion against the government,” “armed attack and assassination of the president” or “membership in an armed terror organization” will be summoned by prosecutors to testify. If they cannot be reached and understood to be abroad, the public prosecutor will refer the case to the Justice Ministry within a month.

The Justice Ministry will then issue a “return home” notice in the Official Gazette for those who are overseas. If they don’t respond to the call within three months, their citizenship will be revoked by Cabinet decision upon a proposal from the Justice Ministry.

Thousands of people, critical of the government or sympathizers of the faith-based Gülen movement, fled Turkey following a failed coup attempt on July 15, immediately after which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement, a global civil society movement inspired by the views of the US-based Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen.

The AKP government, under emergency rule, has taken over hundreds companies, seized the assets of businessmen and shut down institutions linked to the movement.

Despite the fact that Gülen denied the accusation and called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the Turkish government launched a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

More than 115,000 have been sacked from state institutions, nearly 83,000 detained and over 41,000 arrested by Turkish authorities on charges of links to the Gülen movement and the failed coup.

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