Turkey detains 34 police in new raids over illegal eavesdropping
ISTANBUL - Turkish authorities on Monday detained at least 34 police officers in a new wave of raids over the illegal eavesdropping of top officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state media said.
Police conducted raids in 13 cities across Turkey and detained officers accused of wiretapping key figures including businessmen, politicians and government officials, Anatolia news agency reported.
The dawn raids, targeting mostly police intelligence unit officers, were carried out simultaneously in mainly eastern and southeastern cities including Erzurum, Gaziantep, Hatay and Tunceli.
The swoop was the latest in a series of raids since July last year which saw dozens of other policemen arrested for allegedly wiretapping Erdogan and other officials.
A trial opened on Friday of 13 suspects accused of setting up bugs to eavesdrop on Erdogan while he was prime minister, including his former top bodyguard and the head of the prime minister's security department.
The case is linked to last year's stunning corruption allegations against Erdogan and his inner circle that were based on wiretapped telephone conversations and a series of leaked recordings.
Erdogan has blamed US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen of concocting the corruption scandal and has purged thousands of his followers from the police and the judiciary.
The authorities last month launched raids against pro-Gulen media in a move sharply criticised by the EU as marking a new erosion of press freedom in Turkey.
As in almost all previous raids, the details of Monday's swoop were leaked by a mysterious Twitter user named Fuat Avni before it was carried out.
Fuat Avni, who refers to Erdogan as "the tyrant", correctly predicted the locations of the raids, including the southeastern city of Gaziantep, and the timing.
The identity of the user remains a mystery, amid speculation the person could be a senior government figure.