Recep Tayyip Erdogan purge over graft probe extends to bankers and TV station

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 6:16am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 6:16am


The Turkish government's mass purge of police and prosecutors has extended to the banking and telecoms sectors and state television, the latest fallout from a corruption scandal plaguing the country's leaders.

Three high-ranking officials with top banking watchdog the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency have been removed from their posts.

Five department chiefs from the Telecommunications Directorate and a dozen people including senior news editors and department heads at state television channel TRT have also been fired.

The Islamic-leaning government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already dismissed and reassigned hundreds of police officers and prosecutors in what critics say is a government attempt to derail a high-profile graft investigation.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is also seeking to exert more control over the country's top judicial body, a move that has raised concerns among Turkey's allies, including the European Union, about the state of democracy.

The Hurriyet newspaper said the dismissals at the banking regulator came after the release of leaked tapes allegedly belonging to exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, a one-time staunch AKP supporter who has become Erdogan's arch-nemesis.

Erdogan has accused Gulen followers of instigating the probe to undermine his government ahead of March local polls.

Many of those who were dismissed are believed to be close to the cleric.

In another move on Friday, Turkish authorities seized the assets of Mustafa Sarigul, the main opposition candidate for the post of Istanbul mayor.

Sarigul and nine others allegedly failed to repay a US$3.5 million Savings Deposit Insurance Fund loan dating back to 1998.