Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan alleges 'judicial coup'
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit out against a corruption probe that has dragged down members of his government, calling it an "attempted assassination" and a "judicial coup".
At a luncheon in Istanbul with generally pro-government intellectuals, writers and journalists, Erdogan reiterated his view that shadowy groups in Turkey and abroad are conspiring to oust him from power.
"What they wanted to do was an attempted assassination of the national will," he said.
"They tried to carry out a judicial coup in Turkey … But we are going to oppose this operation, this December 17 plot that targeted the future, the stability of our country," Erdogan said.
A string of public figures including high-profile businessmen and the sons of three ministers were detained on December 17 over allegations of bribery for construction projects as well as illicit money transfers to sanctions-hit Iran.
Several MPs including a former culture minister have resigned from the ruling party AKP since the raids, which the government has suggested were instigated by supporters of an influential US-based Turkish cleric.
Erdogan was also forced into a major cabinet reshuffle after the resignation of three ministers whose sons were implicated in the probe.
Erdogan expressed confidence that Turkey would overcome its current difficulties and pointed to municipal elections set for March as a test for his government ahead of presidential elections in August. "We will not allow a cloud to be cast over Turkey's future," he said.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul has promised that any corruption would not be hushed up.
"If acts of corruption are covered up, society will disintegrate," he said. "Nothing must be hidden. Those who have not committed a crime, have nothing to fear."