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Turkey launches massive raid on wiretapping suspects

25 February 2015 17:31

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Turkish authorities have launched a nationwide sweep targeting suspects accused of wiretapping top officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Reports in the Turkish media on Wednesday showed that nearly 40 suspects have been arrested in an operation meant to intensify a crackdown on what the government claims to be a parallel state led by the opposition figure Fethullah Gulen.

The operation started earlier Wednesday after the chief prosecutor’s office in the capital Ankara issued arrest warrants for 54 people. Raids were simultaneously carried out in the capital Ankara and cities in 20 other provinces across Turkey.

Authorities accuse some suspects in the police of carrying out the eavesdropping at the behest of Gulen (pictured above), a respected cleric and former ally of Erdogan, who is based in the United States. The Turkish government says Gulen was behind a corruption scandal that rocked the government late in 2013 implicating Erdogan who was the prime minister then.

The scandal saw wiretap recordings of the Erdogan and a number of senior officials in the government leaked on the Internet. The most disturbing of leaks for Erdogan was the one in which allegedly instructed his son Bilal to dispose of 30 million euros (USD 34 million) in cash. The phone conversation which leaked just ahead of elections that year seriously angered Erdogan and his allies in the ruling Justice and Development Party.

Since then, Thousands of pro-Gulen officials in the police and the judiciary have been dismissed.

A court in Ankara on Tuesday issued a second arrest warrant for Gulen and another for one of his close followers in the US, police-officer-turned-journalist Emre Uslu (pictured above). The court has accused the two of wiretapping a total of 101 people.

Some pro-government newspapers claim Uslu is behind a twitter account that has for several times revealed details of police raids on wiretapping suspects just before they were carried out.

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