Dec. 17, 25 police operations chief Uner: We won’t be cowed

A number of police officers were detained by the İstanbul Police Department’s anti-organized crime branch during simultaneous, government-initiated raids in 13 cities early on Tuesday, ahead of the second anniversary of the graft scandal, which implicated senior government officials and close allies of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Along with Uner, those detained include former İstanbul Police Department Financial Crimes Unit Deputy Chief Yasin Topcu and Mehmet Yesilkaya, the former chief inspector of the Financial Crimes Unit in İstanbul and the former head of the National Police Department’s Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau.

The detained officers were taken to the Haseki Teaching and Research Hospital in İstanbul for a health check. Arguing with the police officers who wanted to pin his arms while entering the hospital, Uner shouted to reporters awaiting their arrival, “We won’t lie down in front of the [Reza] Zarrabs.” Police officers forcibly put Uner in the police bus after the medical check as he continued to try to speak to the reporters.

Uner was the police inspector who ordered the detention of Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, the prime suspect in the Dec. 17 corruption investigation, two years ago. In wiretapped conversations leaked on the Internet after December 2013, then-Interior Minister Muammer Guler promised to protect Zarrab in the event of an investigation into his activities in Turkey. “Brother, be comfortable. I swear to God, if there was such a thing [an investigation], I would lie down in front of you [to shield you],” Guler is heard saying.

Both Topcu and Uner were detained as part of another government-instigated police operation on July 22, 2014 but were released pending trial.

After the medical examination on Thursday, the police officers were taken back to their cells at the İstanbul Police Department.