Turkey arrests 20 in new raids on wire-tapping suspects

TURKEY on Tuesday arrested 20 people, including former senior officials in its telecoms and science agencies, in a new wave of raids against suspects accused of wire-tapping senior officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The official Anatolia news agency said prosecutors issued warrants for 28 people in Ankara, Istanbul and other cities, with those arrested former employees of the telecommunications agency TIB and the TUBITAK science and technology agency.

Anatolia said it was the fourth raid targeting suspects in the illegal wire-tapping case which is linked to last year’s stunning corruption allegations against Erdogan and his inner circle that were based on bugged telephone conversations.

Among those targeted are the former deputy head of TUBITAK Hasan Palaz and communications agency former deputy chief Nihat Sen, it added.

As with previous raids, the current swoops and their targets were predicted with extraordinary precision by the mysterious Twitter user Fuat Avni before they even took place.

The identity of Fuat Avni, who likes to refer to Erdogan as the “tyrant”, remains a mystery with some speculating the person could be a high-ranking government official.

Erdogan has blamed US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen of concocting the corruption scandal using a “parallel state” of officials loyal to him in the police and the judiciary.

Leaked tapes emerged in February 2014 where Erdogan allegedly told his son Bilal to dispose of some 30 million euros ($37 million) in cash. Erdogan has dismissed the recordings as a “vile montage”.

The first trial opened on January 2 of 13 suspects accused of setting up bugs to eavesdrop on Erdogan while he was prime minister, including his former top bodyguard and the head of the prime minister’s security department.

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