Turkey Sacks 350 Police Officers amid Corruption Probe
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The Turkish government sacked 350 police chiefs and officers overnight as it struggles to contain a vast corruption scandal involving key allies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, local media reported Tuesday.
The officers, who were fired by a government decree published at midnight, included the heads of the financial crimes, anti-smuggling, cybercrime and organised crime units, the private Dogan News Agency reported.
The move appears to be the government's latest effort to contain a high-level corruption probe that is posing the biggest threat ever to Erdogan's 11-year-long rule.
Erdogan has denounced the investigation as a foreign plot to bring down his government. He has ordered the sacking of hundreds of police officials across the country, including the police chief in Istanbul, AFP reported.
The appointment of Selami Altinok, a little-known governor with no background in police work, as Istanbul's new head of police was seen as a further attempt to undermine the investigation.
The probe has revealed the bitter fault lines that exist within Erdogan's traditional power base and prompted calls from both his own party and the opposition for the resignation of the entire government.
It has also exposed the pervasive influence of exiled Muslim scholar Fethullah Gulen on the Turkish power structure.
The investigation is believed to be linked to tensions between Erdogan's administration and followers of Gulen, who lives in exile in the United States but whose supporters hold key positions in government, including in the police force and the judiciary.
The crisis erupted December 17 when police arrested dozens of people suspected of numerous offences, including accepting and facilitating bribes for development projects and securing construction permits for protected areas. Those detained included Erdogan allies as well as the sons of former ministers and the chief executive of Turkey's state-run Halkbank.