Turkey's justice minister says some 6,000 people have been detained in a government crackdown on alleged coup plotters and government opponents, reports the AP. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag says that "the cleansing (operation) is continuing. The number could surpass 6,000." Bozdag also said he was confident that the United States would return Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen to Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed Gulen and his followers for the failed military coup on Friday night, but Gulen has denied any involvement in or knowledge. The US says it will look at any evidence Turkey has to offer against Gulen, and judge accordingly. Bozdag says "the United States would weaken itself by protecting him, it would harm its reputation. I don't think that at this hour, the United States would protect someone who carried out this act against Turkey."
The Turkish government has also issued dozens of arrest warrants for judges and prosecutors and detaining military officers. Already, three of the country's top generals have been detained, alongside hundreds of soldiers. The government has also dismissed nearly 3,000 judges and prosecutors from their posts, while investigators were preparing court cases to send conspirators to trial. The botched coup, which saw warplanes fly over key government installations and tanks roll up in major cities, ended hours later when loyal government forces including military and police regained control of the military and civilians took to the streets in support of Erdogan. At least 265 people were killed and over 1,400 were wounded. Government officials say at least 104 conspirators were killed. Still, the government crackdowns raised concerns over the future of democracy in Turkey, which has long prided itself on its democratic and secular traditions. Erdogan's survival has turned him into a "sort of a mythical figure," said the director of the Turkish research program at The Washington Institute. "It will allow him to crack down on liberty and freedom of association, assembly, expression and media in ways that we haven't seen before," he said.