Skip to main content

Erdogan's police purge claims former allies

The government hunt for police chiefs accused of affiliation with the Gulen Movement's "parallel state" has widened and may turn into a nationwide witch hunt.
A plainclothes police officer reacts as riot police stand guard in front of the courthouse in Istanbul December 20, 2013. Turkish police arrested eight people in connection with allegations of official corruption and bribery, a newspaper said on Friday, in an investigation Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called a "dirty operation" aimed at undermining his rule. REUTERS/Osman Orsal (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW) - RTX16PID

On the morning of July 22, at 3 a.m., 14 prominent Turkish police officers were rounded up from their residences by other police officers. They were accused of illegal wiretapping of politicians and bureaucrats, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the head of the National Intelligence Agency (MIT), Hakan Fidan. Erdogan, who openly supported the purge, said that this was “only a beginning.” Three days later, six of the detained were released, the other eight were put into jail for investigations while detained.

This is the latest round, so far, in the passionate political battle that has haunted Turkey since December, when a “corruption investigation” led four ministers to resign and shook the image of the government. Erdogan argued that the whole investigation was a sham and a conspiracy cooked up by the “parallel state” formed by his former allies, the Islamic community led by Fethullah Gulen. This “parallel state” allegedly was a network of police and prosecutors who were acting on behalf of the ideology and purposes of the Gulen community, rather than the legal hierarchy of the state. The detained policemen are accused by Erdogan’s supporters of being a part of this covert network.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.