News / Europe

Dozens of Turkish Police Detained for Alleged Spying on Government

Turkey's Interior Minister Efkan Ala (R) attends a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, July 22, 2014.Turkey's Interior Minister Efkan Ala (R) attends a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, July 22, 2014.
x
Turkey's Interior Minister Efkan Ala (R) attends a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, July 22, 2014.
Turkey's Interior Minister Efkan Ala (R) attends a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, July 22, 2014.
Reuters

Dozens of Turkish police including high-ranking officers were detained on Tuesday, accused of spying and illegal wire-tapping of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his inner circle in what the chief prosecutor said was a concocted probe of an alleged terrorist group.

The former Istanbul anti-terror police chief, himself among those detained and led away in handcuffs, said the incident was entirely political, coming just a few weeks ahead of a presidential election in which Erdogan is standing.

The operation follows a stream of purges targeting the police, judiciary and state institutions this year which government critics have condemned as a symptom of Erdogan's tightening grip.

Concern about his autocratic style has been fuelled by his intention to boost the powers of the presidency if he is elected, a plan he reiterated late on Monday.

Police conducted raids in 22 provinces, and officers involved in a separate government corruption probe which emerged in December and led to the departure of four ministers were among those detained, Turkish media reported.

The officers were accused of making up an investigation into an alleged terrorist group named 'selam-tevhid' as a pretense to tap the phones of Erdogan, ministers and the head of the national intelligence agency.

“The order was given for the capture and detention of 76 police officers who were investigating the group named selam-tevhid but whose actual aims were spying,” Istanbul chief prosecutor Hadi Salihoglu said in a written statement.

He said the 'selam-tevhid' case, targeting 251 people, had been dismissed due to a lack of evidence after a three-year investigation during which 2,280 people were wire-tapped.

Fifty-two of the 76 officers have so far been detained, and Turkish media published photos of former anti-terror police chiefs being led away in handcuffs by their colleagues.

“We handed ourselves in and they handcuffed us behind our backs. It's completely political,” former Istanbul anti-terror police chief Yurt Atayun was quoted as saying by CNN Turk as he was detained.

The order was also given for the arrest of another 39 suspects, of whom 15 have so far been detained, over the wiretapping of around 250 people, including deputies, judges, journalists and senior bureaucrats, allegedly on the grounds of being members of an illegal group, the statement said.

It did not specify whether this was the same 'selam-tevhid' group.

“Parallel structure"

Turkish media described the police raids as targeting a “parallel structure” within the state, a term coined by Erdogan to describe members of the police, judiciary and other institutions loyal to U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of being behind a plot to oust him.

The investigation looked set to widen, according to comments from Erdogan, who spoke briefly to reporters in parliament about the arrests and said the government was monitoring the case.

One reporter said the operation was being characterized as a “cleansing of the parallel structure” and asked if it could spread to other areas.

“That's how it looks. Of course,” Erdogan replied.

Erdogan accuses Gulen's Hizmet (“Service”) network of concocting the scandal by illegally tapping thousands of phones and leaking manipulated recordings on social media.

His aides had made clear the fight against Hizmet would continue in the run-up to the Aug. 10 election, the first direct vote for the presidency, for which Erdogan is the clear front-runner.

Thousands of police officers and hundreds of judges and prosecutors have already been reassigned and senior officials in state institutions dismissed since the investigation, in what is seen as a government drive to wipe out Gulen's influence.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies plotting against the government. 

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs