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Turkey denies rights group's allegations of post-coup abuse

ISTANBUL — Turkey denied allegations by a human rights group Tuesday that police have tortured or abused detainees following a failed coup in July.

A joint Justice and Interior Ministry statement criticized a Human Rights Watch report detailing 13 alleged abuse cases since the July 15 coup attempt as "one-sided and baseless," saying the country has "zero tolerance to ill-treatment and torture."

The 43-page report published last month, entitled "A Blank Check," said a state of emergency adopted after the coup attempt has weakened safeguards against torture. The report described cases involving sleep deprivation, severe beatings, sexual abuse and rape threats.

The ministries said only two of the abuse claims included concrete information and argued that the facts were misrepresented in the Human Rights Watch accounts.

For example, the ministry rejected allegations that one detainee was hospitalized after being beaten, insisting he lost his balance and fell down stairs because he had been fasting. The man was detained for alleged links to the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, which the government accuses of masterminding the coup. Gulen has denied the accusation.

The rights group did not approach the authorities for comment before it published its findings and may have prepared the report "under the influence of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization," the ministry statement said.

The statement also noted that many suspects were detained after clashes with security forces and may have sustained wounds during the struggle. At least 270 people were killed and more than 2,000 people injured during the coup attempt.

In its report last month, Human Rights Watch said authorities have failed to respond appropriately to abuse allegations, instead accusing rights groups of being coup supporters.

Since the coup attempt, nearly 37,000 people have been arrested. The state of emergency has extended the period of detention — during which suspects can be held without charges — to up to 30 days and restricted access to lawyers for up to five days.

The joint statement by the ministries said the extension aims to "duly take the statements of the large number of persons taken into custody."


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