21 police officers detained in Sivas-based operation released

SIVAS: Twenty-one of the 38 police officers who were detained on Friday on charges of carrying out illegal wiretapping in a government-backed investigation launched by a Sivas prosecutor have been released after their statements were taken.

The 38 police officers were detained in Sivas and 17 other provinces as part of the latest Sivas-based, government-orchestrated operation against police officers following the Dec. 17 and 25, 2013 corruption scandals involving then-government ministers.

The remaining 17 police officers are still waiting to provide their testimony.

Hundreds of high-ranking police officers have been detained in a series of synchronized raids in more than 20 provinces since last July. The officers being detained were in the past involved in an anti-corruption operation that went public on Dec. 17, 2013, as well as investigations into the Sledgehammer (Balyoz), Ergenekon, Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) and Tawhid-Salam cases.

The operations against the police, which prosecutors say were launched based on allegations of spying and illegal wiretapping, are widely believed to be an act of retribution by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration.

As a result of the graft probes, four ex-ministers resigned, while dozens of people, including senior bureaucrats, the sons of three then-ministers and businessmen with close ties to the government, were detained. The operations are also widely seen as targeting the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, which Erdogan and government officials have described as a “parallel structure” within the state.

Erdogan, who has described the graft probes as a plot against the government, has accused the Gülen movement of being part of the plot without providing any evidence to support this claim.