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Turkish Military: Erdogan Removed to Protect Constitution, ‘Democracy, Human Rights’

Turkish military officials, under the name the “Peace in the Country Council,” have issued a statement on the coup underway in Ankara, confirming that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s tenure has ended and that the armed forces have taken over as a measure to protect the nation’s “constitutional order, democracy, human rights, and freedom.”

The statement, broadcast over the state-run network TRT, notes that Erdogan’s overthrow was necessary “to reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for the law and order to be reinstated.” It also reassures the international community that those now taking control of Ankara seek diplomatic relations and will not be needlessly belligerent.

“All international agreements and commitments will remain. We pledge that good relations with all world countries will continue,” the statement concludes.

The Associated Press notes that the statement followed multiple reports of a military seizure of the TRT building, and that government officials have called it invalid. Defense Minister Fikri Isik called it a “pirate statement” in a broadcast on CNN-Türk.

CNN-Türk also broadcast an interview with Erdogan via the Apple application Facetime from an unknown location. “We will give a strong reply to the leader of the coup. I declare those responsible will receive the highest penalty,” he said. Erdogan actively encouraged civilians to take up arms are attack soldiers in Ankara’s streets. He also stated that the coup attempt would end “shortly” in his favor.

Following his declaration, reports began arising from Ankara of civilians attacking police. Explosions and gunfire, some from military helicopters, has been reported, as well.

Reports began emerging on Friday night that the military had acted against Erdogan’s rule, blocking all roads out of Ankara and grounding flights. Erdogan’s whereabouts remain unknown. The Stratfor Intelligence Agency says he is currently on an airplane, denied landing in Istanbul and onward to Germany. NBC News has reported that Germany has denied Erdogan asylum.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a statement that the coup is not a coup but an “uprising” and assuring listeners it would not succeed.

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