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Wave of arrests over alleged wiretapping in Turkey

Major operation in Istanbul and other cities sees police officers and officials detained in wiretapping probe.

  | 22.07.2014
Wave of arrests over alleged wiretapping in Turkey

ISTANBUL 

Istanbul's chief public prosecutor's office has said that 15 people have been detained and 39 arrest warrants ordered as part of 'parallel structure' operations. 

The Istanbul-based operation is continuing.  

Fifteen – including high-ranking police officials – were detained for alleged illegal wiretapping and forgery early Tuesday in anti-graft operations throughout police departments in several Turkish cities. 

Counter-terrorism police raided 200 different addresses in Istanbul alone; the suspects underwent medical examination and were brought to the Istanbul police headquarters. 

Istanbul's former counter-terrorism department chief – identified only by the initials O.K. and who was on duty during the December 17 and 25 anti-corruption operations last year – is reported as being among the detainees. 

Another former counter-terrorism department chief Y.A. and deputy chief H.B. of the Istanbul police office were also detained. 

Y.A. told reporters while in hospital: "I resigned myself. They handcuffed me from behind. It's all political."

Fellow suspect H.B., holding up his handcuffed hands, added: "I never have committed an illegal incident."

Another Istanbul police official was detained on charges of 'leaking information’ to the suspects before the operation. 

In the capital Ankara, three police officials – two commissioners and one department chief – were detained. Two officers were arrested in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir and others were detained in Izmir, Van, Bitlis and Antalya.

All were later sent to Istanbul.

The latest detentions follow two high-profile Istanbul-based anti-graft operations launched in December last year, which led to the arrest of high-profile figures including the sons of the three government ministers as well as several businessmen. All those detained in the probe were later released pending trial. 

The Turkish government denounced the probes as a "dirty plot" constructed by a "parallel" group of bureaucrats which it said were nestled within the country's key institutions including the judiciary and police.

The group, allegedly run by a movement led by U.S.-based Turkish Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen has been accused of conducting thousands of illegal wiretappings in Turkey.

According to a press statement today by Istanbul's chief public prosecutor's office, some other police officers were detained as part of a separate investigation into a “so-called 'Selam-Tevhid' organization”. These officers ran that probe since 2010 and which lead to various charges for over 251 people.

However, the prosecutor added that that investigation was now over and that the 251 accused would not face further legal action. 

Some police officers running that investigation were the subject of today’s arrests. The prosecutor went on to say that today’s suspects have “illegally wiretapped 2,280 people in total, including [the] Turkish Prime Minister and Ministers."

A total of 76 police officials from this group are facing charges of espionage. 

"Fifty-two of the police officials [have been] detained so far and operations continue," the statement said. 

www.aa.com.tr/en 

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