World Bulletin/News Desk
Dozens of high-ranking police officers were detained in Turkey on Tuesday accused of involvement in spying and illegal wire-tapping of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's inner circle.
At least 76 officers were detained in 22 provinces around the country on suspicion of forming a criminal organisation and illegally bugging phones, Turkish media reported.
According to the Daily Hurriyet, around 40 of those detained in the raids in 22 provinces in Turkey are believed to be involved in spying, illegal wiretapping and fraud in official documents.
A further 15 people were arrested in another operation on former intelligence officials over claims of illegal surveillance, with detention orders for 134 suspects, CNNTurk reported.
Yurt Atayun and Omer Kose, the former heads of the Istanbul police’s anti-terror department, as well as former deputy police chiefs Kazim Aksoy, Ramazan Candan and Gafur Atac.
The officers were accused of making up an investigation into an alleged terrorist group named 'selam-tevhid' as a pretence 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.
The raids come a day after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “clean up the paralel state” in a televised interview.
Most of those detained had held key positions during last year's "corruption" investigation, which is dubbed "coup attempt" by Erdogan, accusing U.S. based congregation leader Fethullah Gulen.
He accuses Gulen's Hizmet ("Service") network of concocting the scandal by illegally wiretapping thousands of government phones and leaking manipulated recordings on social media.
His aides had made clear the fight against Hizmet would continue in the run-up to Turkey's first direct presidential election on Aug. 10, in which Erdogan is the 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 purge Gulen's influence.
Police in Istanbul declined to comment.
Last Mod: 22 Temmuz 2014, 13:29