Turkey arrests policemen for 'spying'

About 67 serving and former top police officers seized for espionage and illegal wire-tapping, Turkish prosecutors say.

    The arrests are the latest round in a bitter feud between Erdogan and his former ally Fethullah Gulen [File - AFP]
    The arrests are the latest round in a bitter feud between Erdogan and his former ally Fethullah Gulen [File - AFP]

    Turkish authorities have arrested dozens of senior police officers on suspicion of illegally eavesdropping on top officials, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish prosecutors have said.

    A total of 67 serving and former top police officers were arrested as part of two probes, prosecutors said in a statement on Tuesday.

    Most of the arrests were in the country's largest city, Istanbul, but raids were also carried out in the capital, Ankara, and cities including Izmir and Diyarbakir.

    In the huge early morning operation, police in Istanbul alone raided almost 200 addresses, the AFP news agency reported.

    Among those held were two former heads of the city's elite anti-terror unit, Omer Kose and Yurt Atayun.

    I surrendered but as you see they put the handcuffs behind my back. It is all political.

    Yurt Atayun, Former police official

    "I surrendered but as you see they put the handcuffs behind my back," Atayun told reporters. "It is all political," he said when asked why he was detained.

    The suspects are accused of espionage, illegal wire-tapping, forging official documents, violation of privacy, fabricating evidence and violating the secrecy of an investigation, the reports said.

    The public prosecutor's office in Istanbul said that arrest warrants had been issued for 115 suspects and 67 have been detained so far.

    Fallouts of bitter feud

    The arrests are the latest round in a bitter feud between Erdogan and his former ally Fethullah Gulen, in the wake of a vast corruption scandal that broke late last year implicating the prime minister and his inner circle.

    Supporters of exiled cleric Gulen in the police force were widely blamed for leaking details of scandals.

    The latest wave of arrests is set to further inflame political tensions in Turkey as Erdogan attempts to take the presidency in August 10 elections, having been prime minister for more than a decade.


    REALTED: Gulen, Erdogan and democracy in Turkey


    Most of the suspects reportedly held key positions in the anti-corruption probe against Erdogan, where some of the evidence came from recorded telephone conversations.

    In a television interview on Monday, Erdogan vowed bitterly that the fight against the Gulen movement would continue "non-stop" while calling on the United States to extradite the exiled cleric from his base in Pennsylvania.

    "I expect the United States to take a stance on the Gulen issue," Erdogan said.

    Gulen, who left for the US in 1999 to escape charges of anti-secular activities by the government at the time, has denied being behind the corruption allegations against Erdogan.

    SOURCE: AFP


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