Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan smiles as he addresses a conference on judicial reform strategy in Ankara. File picture: Presidential Press Service via AP

Strasbourg, France - The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said Monday that it has asked Turkey for observations on appeals from 546 judges and prosecutors against their detention.

The magistrates were all suspended from their jobs in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt by a military faction in July 2016, and later detained on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization.

They are accused of being followers of US-based Islamist cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan whom Turkish authorities blame for the coup attempt.

Ankara launched a major crackdown after the coup attempt, in which more than 250 people were killed. Gulen has denied any involvement.

In April Erdogan said that 30 559 people were in prison over alleged links with Gulen. More than 31,000 people were sacked from the police, 15,000 from the army and 4 000 from the judiciary.

The media and the Kurdish opposition have also been caught up in the crackdown. In November the ECHR ruled Turkey should free pro-Kurdish opposition leader Selahattin Demirtas, but Ankara appealed the ruling to the court's Grand Chamber.

An ECHR spokesman told dpa that about 3 250 applications related to the coup attempt are currently before the court.

Between July 2016 and early November 2018, the court had already decided on 29 500 applications.

Most were examined by a single judge, a procedure which allows the court to reject claims that are inadmissible or do not require further examination.