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Turkey

Turkish police charged with 'illegal wiretaps' of government officials

A Turkish court has charged 20 police officers with illegal wiretapping. The allegedly illegal wiretaps are connected to a corruption investigation involving Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A court in Istanbul has charged the 20 police officers with illicit wiretapping and forging official documents, Turkish news agencies reported on Saturday.

The suspects were among the more than 50 police officers who were detained on Tuesday for allegedly conducting illegal wiretaps against government officials, lawmakers, bureaucrats, judges and journalists. Police raided more than 200 addresses across 22 provinces.

Prime Minister Erdogan has accused the detained police officers of conspiring with his arch-rival, the US-based moderate Islamist Fethullah Gulen, to overthrow his government. In the past, Erdogan has said that Gulen runs a "parallel state" in Turkey that draws loyalty from some officials in law enforcement and the judiciary.

But many of the police officers have said that their detentions were politically motivated. Erdogan is running in Turkey's first direct presidential elections, scheduled for August 10.

Corruption scandal

Last February, an audio recording surfaced on the Internet, in which Erdogan allegedly tells his son to hide large sums of money. The government subsequently denied the authenticity of the recording.

The conversation was supposedly recorded on December 17, 2013, the day that a corruption scandal broke involving allegations of bribery, illegal gold trading with Iran, and illegal construction projects. Many politicians, businessmen and the sons of government ministers were implicated in the scandal.

Several government ministers were forced to step down as a result of the scandal, the biggest challenge to Erdogan's more than 10-year rule.

slk/dr (AP, AFP)

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