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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs