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Turkey puts 200 suspected military coup plotters on trial amid heavy security

ANKARA Turkey put on trial 200 suspects on Monday including senior military officers accused of plotting and orchestrating last year’s failed coup, in a court case where prosecutors are calling for life sentences.

The defendants, among them President Tayyip Erdogan’s aide-de-camp, the former head of Turkey’s air force, and dozens of generals, colonels and majors, were paraded on their way to court past dozens of protesters who demanded the death penalty and threw nooses towards them.

Around 1,500 security personnel were deployed for security at the trial, state-run Anadolu news agency reported, which was held in a purpose-built courthouse in Sincan on the outskirts of the Turkish capital.

More than 240 people, many of them civilians, were killed in the failed coup on July 15, 2016, when a group of rogue soldiers commandeered tanks, warplanes and helicopters, bombing the parliament and attempting to overthrow the government.

Those on trial in Sincan included core suspects behind the coup who raided the state broadcaster and forced the presenter to read out an announcement saying the army had taken over and Turkey was being run by a committee they called “Peace at Home”.

Erdogan blames Fetullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric and a former ally, and his global network for orchestrating the coup, a charge Gulen denies . Turkish authorities have arrested nearly 50,000 people over alleged links with the preacher.

At the start of the hearing, families of the victims attending the trial screamed at the defendants, and one woman in the courtroom, whose son was killed during the coup, broke down.

“Kill these traitors, the murderers of my son,” she screamed before fainting . The judge called for a medical team to be brought into the courtroom.

From a total of 221 defendants, more than 200 are from the military and more than half of those were officers who held ranks from captains up to generals . All but 12 of the suspects, who are still at large, appeared in court . Gulen, who is among the defendants, is among those being tried in absentia.

Following confirmation of the suspects’ identity and the reading of a summary of the roughly 2,000-page indictment, suspects will be able to put forward their defence.

Hearings at the trial, one of the largest of several coup-related trials taking place across Turkey, are expected to last until June 16.

Citing the coup attempt as a grave threat to the state, Turkish authorities have also sacked or suspended around 150,000 civil servants, teachers, judges, prosecutors, police and soldiers and have shut down around 150 media outlets.

While the detentions may have been supported by some Turks in the immediate aftermath of the abortive putsch, criticism mounted as arrests widened to include groups of which many deny any connection to Gulen.

Many relatives of those detained or sacked since July say they have nothing to do with the armed attempt to overthrow the government, and are victims of a purge designed to consolidate Erdogan’s control.

(Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Dominic Evans and Raissa Kasolowsky)

Member of security watchdog OSCE killed in Ukraine

One member of European security watchdog OSCE’s monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine was killed and two others were injured after their vehicle drove over a mine near Luhansk.

An American man was killed and a German woman was injured on Sunday morning, a spokesman for Austria’s foreign ministry said . Austria holds the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Germany’s foreign ministry said two were injured, but gave no immediate details . The OSCE confirmed on Twitter that a patrol with six members and two armoured vehicles had been in a “serious incident” but gave no further information.

Three years after Moscow annexed the Crimean region, tensions between Ukraine and separatists in the Russian-held eastern part of the country remain high and a 2015 ceasefire agreement is violated regularly.

The Ukrainian military said the incident took place at 10:17 local time (0717 GMT) near the small village of Pryshyb, which is controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

The unarmed, civilian OSCE mission with more than 700 international observers was deployed in 2014 . The role of the monitors includes verifying the withdrawal of heavy weapons as agreed under the 2015 ceasefire agreement.

“It is a terrible tragedy,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement, calling for “an immediate end to the violence and unjustified accusations, especially on the part of separatists in eastern Ukraine.”

“It is in the interest of everyone involved, especially the conflict parties on the line of engagement, that OSCE observers are able to carry out their important, indispensable, and at once difficult and dangerous work,” Gabriel said.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz on Twitter both called for an investigation of the incident . Kurz said he had spoken to the mission’s ambassador, Ertugrul Apakan.

“Need thorough investigation; those responsible will be held accountable,” Kurz said on Twitter.

A spokesman for the OSCE said further information would be released as it became available.

The 57 member states of the OSCE, which include Ukraine, Russia and the United States, in March extended its monitoring in Ukraine by a year.

Gabriel said the OSCE patrols had clearly prevented a more serious military escalation in recent years.

(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi in Zurich, Francois Murphy in Vienna, Pavel Polityuk in Kiev and Andrea Shalal in Berlin; editing by Jason Neely)

China draft cyber law mandates security assessment for outbound data

BEIJING China’s top cyber authority on Tuesday released a draft law that would require firms exporting data to undergo an annual security assessment, in the latest of several recent safeguards against threats such as hacking and terrorism.

Any business transferring data of over 1000 gigabytes or affecting over 500,000 users will be assessed on its security measures and on the potential of the data to harm national interests, showed the draft from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).

The law would ban the export of any economic, technological or scientific data whose transfer would pose a threat to security or public interests . It would also require firms to obtain the consent of users before transmitting data abroad.

The proposed law, which focuses on personal information security, comes just a day after state media reported government rewards of $1,500 to $73,000 for citizens who report suspected spies.

It is also an extension of legislation passed in November formalizing a range of controls over firms that handle data in industries the government deems critical to national interests.

Business groups have criticized the November law, which is effective from June, calling rules “vague” and claiming they unfairly target foreign companies with stringent requirements.

Chinese officials denied that the November law targets foreign firms.

Under the rules released on Tuesday, sensitive geographic data such as information on marine environments would also be subject to scrutiny . Destination countries and the likelihood of oversees tampering would also be factored in to any assessments.

The draft is open for public comment until May 11.

(Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Christopher Cushing)