All Turkish academics banned from traveling abroad amid widening post-coup purge
The ban is a temporary measure to prevent alleged coup plotters in universities from escaping, according to a Turkish government official, cited by Reuters. Some people at the universities were communicating with military cells, the official claimed.
Four university rectors have also been suspended as part of the crackdown, according to broadcaster NTV.
It comes shortly after the government ordered the resignation of all university deans – namely, 1,577 people.
Also, the authorities canceled the licenses of 21,000 private-school teachers, bringing the total number of dismissed professionals to almost 60,000, according to Bloomberg estimates.
Academics around the world have expressed their outrage at the situation, too. Fiona de Londras, professor of Global Legal Studies at the University of Birmingham, has launched an online petition to support academic freedom in Turkey.
The Anonymous hacktivist group has also condemned the crackdown on education and media, urging to pay attention to the upcoming publications on the WikiLeaks whistleblowing website. On Wednesday, access to WikiLeaks was blocked in Turkey after a cache of some 300,000 government emails went online.
The purge comes as the government suspects the academics of links with the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who denies claims that he was behind the recent attempted coup.
PM Binali Yildirim said the preacher led a "terrorist organization," and pledged in a speech to parliament to “dig them up by their roots."
Gulen, in his turn, hinted that Erdogan may have staged it himself; the Turkish president called the claim “nonsensical.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Turkey would need to provide “evidence, not allegations” against the cleric, currently living in Pennsylvania, in order to have him extradited to Turkey.