Turkish Police Carry New Wiretapping Raids

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Published Sunday, February 8, 2015

Turkish police on Sunday launched a new wave of raids seeking to arrest suspects accused of allegedly wiretapping the communications of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other top officials.

Istanbul prosecutors issued warrants for 21 police officers, the official Anatolia news agency said.

It was unclear how many had been arrested so far although NTV television showed pictures of several suspects being roughly led away by plain clothes police.

The raids were focused on Istanbul but also took place in the western city of Afyon and Zonguldak on the Black Sea, Anatolia added.

The authorities accuse the police of carrying out the eavesdropping at the behest of Erdogan's arch foe, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, in a bid to implicate the Turkish strongman in corruption allegations.

Gulen, 73, was once a close ally of the Islamic-rooted government and Erdogan. The cleric, But the authorities blamed Gulen for corruption allegations that rocked Erdogan's government in December 2013 while he was prime minister.

Turkish police have over the last months carried out numerous raids on former top police officials accused in the case. Anatolia said it was the ninth such wave of swoops since they started on July 22.

Gulen, who rarely makes comments in public, had written in an article published Tuesday in the New York Times that Turkey's leaders are taking the country on a path towards "totalitarianism."

On Thursday, Turkey made a new call for Washington to extradite Gulen.

Erdogan, who consolidated his power further in moving from the prime minister's office to the presidency in August, accuses Gulen of establishing a "parallel state" within the state through his supporters in the judiciary, police and other state institutions, as well as wielding influence through the media.

In December, alluding to an international conspiracy, Erdogan claimed the "parallel structure" was targeting Turkey's stability, independence and economy.

"I want my dear nation to know that we are not just faced with a simple network, but one which is a pawn of national and international evil forces," he said.

In an intensification of the campaign against his movement, Turkish banking authorities this week seized control of Bank Asya, an Islamic bank founded by followers of Gulen.

Suspects previously arrested have been accused of setting up bugs to eavesdrop on Erdogan and other top officials while he was prime minister up to August 2014.

Leaked tapes emerged in February 2014 where Erdogan allegedly told his son Bilal to dispose of some 30 million euros ($37 million) in cash. Erdogan has dismissed the recordings as a "vile montage.”

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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