Accessibility links

Turkey Detains 22 Security Officers Over Illegal Wiretapping

  • Reuters

FILE - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan listens during a news conference in Riga.

FILE - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan listens during a news conference in Riga.

Turkish police detained 22 security officers Monday on suspicion of illegally wiretapping politicians, civil servants and businessman, Dogan News Agency reported.

The raids were a further salvo in President Tayyip Erdogan's campaign against supporters of his ally turned arch-foe, the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The chief prosecutor's office in the southeastern province of Gaziantep coordinated the raids in 13 mainly eastern and southeastern cities, according to Dogan, a privately owned national news service.

Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.

Erdogan accuses Gulen of setting up a “parallel state” within the Turkish administration and trying to topple him, blaming his supporters within the police and judiciary for a corruption inquiry that rocked the government late in 2013.

In the course of the scandal, apparently incriminating wiretap recordings of the then-prime minister, ministers and other senior officials were leaked onto the Internet.

Erdogan has cast the investigation, which led to the resignation of three ministers, as a “coup attempt” and in response he had thousands of police officers, judges and prosecutors removed from their posts.

Last week a trial opened in the capital Ankara of 13 security officials, including Erdogan's former chief bodyguard, on charges of placing illegal wiretaps on Erdogan in 2011 when he was prime minister.

Subsequent graft cases linked to the original investigation collapsed after state authorities tightened their grip on the judiciary, raising alarm among Turkey's Western allies about an apparent erosion of the rule of law.

Last month a Turkish court issued an arrest warrant against Gulen on suspicion of heading up a criminal organization. Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile but was for years an important Erdogan ally before their relations soured, denies any involvement in plots against the government.