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Turkey bans academics from traveling abroad

After sacking 1,600 university deans, higher education council orders probe into alleged supporters of cleric Gulen

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters gathered in front of his residence in Istanbul, early Tuesday, July 19, 2016. (Kayhan Ozer/pool photo via AP)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters gathered in front of his residence in Istanbul, early Tuesday, July 19, 2016. (Kayhan Ozer/pool photo via AP)

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s higher education council has banned academics from traveling abroad and urged those overseas to quickly return home, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.

Turkey has widened its massive post-coup purge from the military and police to the education sector to root out supporters of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom it accuses of orchestrating the attempted putsch.

The council asked university rectors to “urgently examine the situation of all academic and administrative personnel linked with FETO” — or the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization,” as it labels Gulen’s supporters — and report back by August 5.

It also told universities that academics who are already abroad on work or study missions should return home “within the shortest possible time.”

On Tuesday, the government suspended 15,200 state education employees and demanded the resignation of almost 1,600 deans from private and state universities over alleged links to Gulen.

Gulen lives in Pennsylvania but retains vast interests in Turkey ranging from media to finance to schools and wields influence in various institutions including the judiciary and police.

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