Second wave launched against police officers in wiretapping probe

Second wave launched against police officers in wiretapping probe

Second wave launched against police officers in wiretapping probe

The list of detentions include 33 police officers according to initial information. DHA Photo

Twenty-eight police officers were detained early Aug. 5 in a second operation as part of the “illegal wiretapping” probe in 14 provinces across Turkey. Other five officers are sought.

Police raided colleagues’ residences at a number of addresses around Istanbul and in several other cities. The 28 detained police officers included one officer from the police intelligence unit in Kahramanmaraş, three from the Hakkari Police Department and five from the police departments in Van and Bitlis, Anadolu Agency reported.

Most of the detained are low-ranking officers, in contrast to last month’s arrests, which targeted police chiefs and senior officers.

In the first wave of the operation last month, a total of 31 police officers were arrested after 115 officers were detained in overnight raids July 22. Eleven police officers were arrested on July 30 as part of the investigation into the alleged illegal wiretapping of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his inner circle.

The second operation did not come as a surprise as Erdoğan had stated last week that the operations against the “parallel state” would continue and widen with information acquired through further investigation.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ brushed aside claims that the operation could be extended to prosecutors and judges. “The procedures that prosecute judges and prosecutors are different. We don’t have anything planned. This has nothing to do with [the government]. If there is an investigation, those who are tasked will perform their duties,” he said in his first comments after the second wave of the operation.

Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay praised the operation and said raids would continue in the coming days. He also said the police officers were suspects in the operations because the most important pillar of the “parallel state” structure was within the Police Department.

The investigation came after two corruption probes into high-profile figures from political and business circles was interpreted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as an operation aimed at toppling the government.

The AKP claims that supporters of Erdoğan’s erstwhile ally, U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, formed an alleged “parallel state” aimed at toppling the government, particularly through their posts in the judiciary and the police.

Many of the officers detained last week were involved in those corruption probes and have interpreted the current case as politically motivated.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu highlighted that the operations came with just a week remaining until the presidential elections on Aug. 10, Doğan News Agency reported.

“Such operations are taking place before each election. Is Turkey under the rule of law or not? We don’t know,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters at Atatürk Airport on Aug 5.

The CHP leader also criticized Erdoğan for failing to reveal his relationship with the Gülen movement in the past. “Presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdoğan once said, ‘What did you want that we didn’t give [to Gülen movement]?’ And we asked [Erdoğan], ‘What have they [Gülen movement] wanted that you have given them?’ but we haven’t been able to get an answer so far. If there is a parallel state, then who made these nominations [to the public institutions] and who has actually governed the country?” said Kılıçdaroğlu. 

The heads of three police departments were also reshuffled late on Aug. 4.

Hacı Yusuf Karababa, the head of directorate of anti-smuggling and organized crime branch, was assigned to the Department to Fight Cybercrime, to be replaced by Ankara police chief Orhan Özdemir. Murat Koçak, who was head of the Department to Fight Cybercrime, was assigned to the Passport and Secure Document Department, while the latter’s former head, Selman Girgin, was assigned to head the Baltalimanı Polis House.

Karababa was at the top of an investigation into the “parallel state” within the police.

Karababa’s department started an investigation in 2010 over allegedly conspiring to rig a bid, while Özdemir was also questioned as part of the investigation.

Yesterday’s operation was first announced on Aug. 4 on Twitter on the account of an unidentified whistleblower who goes by the nickname of Fuat Avni. His account was blocked.

The suspects detained on July 22 on charges of “illegal wiretapping, spying and fraud” had been monitoring the private lives of the people they allegedly wiretapped illegally, according to authorities.

According to the results of studies conducted at 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 file on the illegal wiretapping suspects also included transcripts of phone conversations by Erdoğan and Hakan Fidan, head of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT). Some 123 of Fidan’s conversations were recorded as part of the Selam-Tevhid organization probe.