The authorities have already sacked thousands of police officers,
dozens of prosecutors and some state television officials in
response to the corruption investigation, which has become the
biggest challenge to Erdogan's 11-year rule.
Investigators are believed to have been looking into allegations of
corruption at a state-run bank and bribery involving big real estate
projects, although details of their charges have not been made
The combative prime minister says the investigations, which began a
month ago with arrests of high profile figures including the sons of
three of his cabinet ministers, are part of an attempted "judicial
His opponents say they fear a purge of official bodies will destroy
the independence of the judiciary, police and media.
Among dozens of officials dismissed in the latest sackings, Turkish
media reported on Saturday that the deputy head of the banking
watchdog BDDK and two department heads had been removed.
Five department chiefs were fired at the Telecommunications
Directorate (TIB), a body that carries out electronic surveillance
as well as serving as telecoms regulator, and a dozen people were
fired at Turkey's state channel TRT, including department heads and
senior news editors.
Erdogan has suggested the graft inquiry, which has led to the
resignation of three cabinet ministers and detention of businessmen
close to the government, is an attempt by Fethullan Gulen, a
U.S.-based cleric with influence among the police and judiciary, to
undermine his rule.
Many of the people who have been fired are believed to be associated
with the cleric's Hizmet movement, which claims more than a million
followers and runs schools and charities throughout Turkey.
[to top of second column]
Earlier in the week the government reassigned twenty high-profile
prosecutors, stepping up the purge of the judiciary.
The government has also prepared a draft bill to tighten its grip on
High Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), a panel that controls
the appointment of all judges and prosecutors.
There were heated discussions and even fights among members of
parliament during talks over the draft bill last week.
Erdogan, who has presided over an extended economic boom that has
transformed Turkey and lifted millions of people from poverty,
remains the country's most popular politician.
He and his moderate Islamist AK Party have long battled for
influence against the secularist military establishment that
dominated Turkey for a century. His conflict with the judiciary,
police and Gulen followers add to his list of enemies.
It is still not clear what effect the crisis might have an local
elections approaching in March. Last year saw mass street
demonstrations among Turks who accuse the prime minister of
authoritarianism, but those protests did little to undermine
Erdogan's support among his conservative base of followers.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Peter Graff)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.