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15 May, 2024 10:42

Major crackdown reported in Turkish police

Top officials in Ankara are under investigation after claims they conspired against ex-ministers, according to local media
Major crackdown reported in Turkish police

Senior officials tasked with fighting organized crime in Ankara, Türkiye are under investigation for an alleged conspiracy targeting the government, Hurriyet has claimed.

The high-profile case, which was detailed by the newspaper on Wednesday, is centered on a man named Serdar Sertcelik. He purportedly was the right-hand man of the leader of Ayhan Bora Kaplan, an alleged criminal organization that was busted by law enforcement last year.

According to Turkish media, investigators granted Sertcelik the status of secret witness in its case against the group. Recently, however, he escaped custody and fled the country.

He then made extraordinary claims, stating that the police leadership pressured him into naming senior members of the ruling AK Party, including former cabinet members and people currently serving in high positions of power, as linked to crimes. The purported ‘Operation Clean Hands’ amounted to an anti-government conspiracy, Sertcelik declared.

Last week, the Turkish Interior Ministry announced the suspension of a deputy chief of the Ankara province police who supervised the fight against organized crime, the director of the relevant branch in the force, and one of his deputies. The statement cited “claims on social media” as warranting the move.

On Wednesday night, their homes and the home of the deputy police chief’s chauffeur were searched, according to the media. The raids were conducted by the counterterrorism branch of the Ankara police, Hurriyet said. The officials were said to be investigated for a range of crimes, including conspiracy against the constitutional order of Türkiye.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya issued a statement on Wednesday apparently referring to the searches. He vowed that anyone using “FETO tactics” – a reference to the organization of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen – would be held accountable. The Turkish government under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Gulen for years of plotting ways to undermine it, including an attempted military coup in 2016.

”If there is a structure within any institution targeting our president, our government and our politicians, we will go to the end, identify those structures and bring them to justice,” the interior minister said on X (formerly Twitter).

Erdogan reportedly held a secret meeting overnight with senior security and justice officials. Meanwhile, nationalist politician and serving MP Devlet Bahceli demanded a crackdown on the alleged conspiracy, saying: “If we bow to those who are planning a repeat of the coup attempt with 17-25 police and judiciary partners, we will be devastated.”

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