EIGHT police officers were remanded in custody by a Turkish court yesterday pending a possible trial over accusations they spied on prime minister Tayyip Erdogan and his inner circle.
The investigation is widely seen as targeting a “parallel structure” within the state, a term coined by the autocratic Mr Erdogan to describe members of the police, judiciary and other institutions loyal to US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of plotting to oust him.
Many of those detained were officers who carried out a corruption probe centred on Erdogan’s inner circle. They say their arrest is politically motivated. State broadcaster TRT said the Istanbul court remanded eight officers in custody but released six others.
Earlier prosecutors had ordered the release of eight other officers. They have yet to rule on the remaining detainees.
Relatives of the officers gathered at the court for the ruling, applauding the release of some officers and protesting the formal arrest of the others, which came less than three weeks ahead of a presidential election Mr Erdogan is expected to win.
Police on Tuesday detained dozens of top officers on a list of 115 who chief Istanbul prosecutor Hadi Salihoglu ordered to be questioned over what he said was a concocted investigation of an alleged terrorist group.
The operation follows a series of purges targeting the police, judiciary and state institutions this year, seen as Mr Erdogan tightening his grip on power.
The officers were accused of making up a terrorist group called selam-tevhid as a pretence to tap the phones of Mr Erdogan, ministers and the head of the national intelligence agency.