Istanbul court arrests 17 policemen in espionage probe
ISTANBUL - Anadolu AgencyAn Istanbul court late Feb. 14 ordered the arrest of 17 of 21 police officers detained with charges of illegal wiretapping and espionage.
The officers were accused of being members an organization, engaging in espionage and attempting to topple the Turkish government.
The judge released four other officers, but they were banned from leaving the country.
Ömer Turanlı, the police officers’ lawyer, said he would continue their legal battle until the end.
The testimonies of 21 police officers, who were detained in operations that were conducted in 12 provinces, were started on Feb. 12 and ended on Feb. 14.
The court ordered the arrest of 17 officers on charges of being a member of terror organization, espionage and attempting to topple the Turkish government or attempting to prevent the government from performing its tasks.
The suspects are accused of illegally wiretapping then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the then-head of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT), Hakan Fidan, and other high-ranking figures.
According to the results of studies conducted by the Istanbul Anti-Terror Department, private conversations recorded as part of a probe into the Selam-Tevhid organization were filed even though they were allegedly irrelevant to the investigation.
The arrests follow a December 2013 graft probe that led to the arrest of several high-profile figures, including the sons of three former government ministers and leading business figures.
The Turkish government has accused followers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen of engaging in illegal wiretapping and alleged that the network attempted to infiltrate the Turkish state. It has denounced the December probe as a “dirty plot” constructed by a “parallel state” to overthrow the government.
The “parallel state” refers to an alleged group of Gülenist civil servants and senior officials embedded in Turkey’s state institutions, including the judiciary and the police.