Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey on Friday lifted passport restrictions on nearly 60,000 people with alleged ties to failed coup in 2016, the Interior Ministry said.

A total of 57,191 passports are now clear of restrictions following investigations, the ministry said on its website.

It added that a total of 212,541 passports had been reinstated so far since the abortive coup attempt.

The government had placed passport restrictions on tens of thousands to prevent them from leaving the country as part of a crackdown following the failed putsch on July 15, 2016.

It is not clear how many passports in total were initially affected.

Among the reasons for the restrictions were alleged ties to U.S.-based Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the coup attempt by a faction in the military.

The retired cleric and businessman, who once a close ally of President Recep Erdogan, denies the allegations, Gülen movement is designated as a terrorist organisation by the Republic of Turkey.

In July 2016, a coup d’état was attempted in Turkey against state institutions, including the government and President Erdoğan.

Gülen has suggested the coup was in fact a “self-coup” carried out by Erdoğan to consolidate his grip on power, a belief shared among some analysts and Turks.

During the coup, more than 300 people were killed and more than 2,100 were injured.

Many government buildings, including the Turkish Parliament and the Presidential Palace, were bombed from the air.

Mass arrests followed, with at least 40,000 detained, including at least 10,000 soldiers and, for reasons that remain unclear, 2,745 judges.

Also 15,000 education staff were suspended and the licences of 21,000 teachers working at private institutions were revoked as well after the government alleged they were loyal to Gülen.

More than 77,000 people have been arrested and more than 160,000 fired from their jobs, on accusation of connections to Gülen.

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