Turkey launches new raids over Erdogan eavesdropping case

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Turkish police on Sunday launched a new wave of raids seeking to arrest suspects accused of wiretapping the communications of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other top officials.

Istanbul prosecutors issued warrants for 21 police officers, the official Anatolia news agency said.

It was unclear how many had been arrested so far although NTV television showed pictures of several suspects being roughly led away by plain clothes police.

The raids were focused on Istanbul but also took place in the western city of Afyon and Zonguldak on the Black Sea, Anatolia added.

The authorities accuse the police of carrying out the eavesdropping at the behest of Erdogan’s arch foe, the U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, in a bid to implicate the Turkish strongman in corruption allegations.

Turkish police have over the last months carried out numerous raids on former top police officials accused in the case. Anatolia said it was the ninth such wave of swoops since they started on July 22.

Gulen, who rarely makes comments in public, had written in an article published Tuesday in the New York Times that Turkey’s leaders are taking the country on a path towards “totalitarianism.”

The Turkish authorities last week also seized control of a bank linked to Gulen in a move the opposition denounced as a scandal that would undermine investor confidence in Turkey.

Suspects previously arrested have been accused of setting up bugs to eavesdrop on Erdogan and other top officials while he was prime minister up to August 2014.

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