US supports Gulen in move against Erdogan in Turkey

Istanbul police leading a major corruption and bribery investigation targeting allies of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have seized shoe boxes stashed with $4.5 million at the home of a state-owned bank’s chief executive, a Turkish news agency reported Wednesday.
Dozens of people, including the bank’s CEO and the sons of three key government ministers, were detained Tuesday for questioning in raids as part of the investigation which threatens to rock Erdogan’s 11-year tenure.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said more than 50 people were in police custody as part of the investigation. Other reports said as many as 84 people were detained.
Many believe the police operation is the fallout of a deepening rift between Erdogan’s government and a powerful U.S.-based moderate Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whose followers are reported to have a strong foothold within Turkey’s police and judiciary.
Police searching the home of Halk Bank’s CEO, Suleyman Aslan, discovered the shoe boxes containing money on his bookshelves, the Dogan news agency reported. It said Aslan’s wife, who was also detained, was heard in a wiretapped telephone conversation as saying “the greens have arrived,’ allegedly in reference to dollar bills.
Dogan, a reliable news source, cited unidentified judicial officials for its report. A national police official said he could not immediately confirm the report, while officials at the Interior Ministry refused comment. Halk Bank said police had requested information concerning their investigation but had no other comment on the case.
Analysts say the investigation is the latest round of a power struggle between Gulen and Erdogan’s government. The cleric’s movement long supported Erdogan’s Islamic-based Justice and Development Party but has fallen out with the Turkish leader over his plans to close down private cram schools that are a major source of income for his group.
In a sign that Erdogan was fighting back against the probe, five senior police officials were removed from duty Wednesday, Turkish media reports said. They included commissioners in charge of combatting organized crime, smuggling and criminal financial activity and oversaw the corruption detentions, according to Dogan.
Erdogan has suggested that the probe is a politically motivated “dirty trap” to harm his government. The investigation comes ahead of local elections in March that are largely seen as a vote of confidence in Erdogan’s government.
Erdogan himself is expected to be a candidate in the presidential election in August.
Turkey’s financial markets have been turbulent since Tuesday’s raids, with the markets sliding and the Turkish Lira drifting downward against the dollar.
Police confirmed to The Associated Press that the sons of three government ministers have been held for questioning: Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, Interior Minister Muammer Guler and Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdogan Bayraktar.
Opposition parties have demanded that the three ministers resign and criticized the dismissal of the five police chiefs, calling it an attempt to cover up the scandal.

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