Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday lashed out against a corruption probe that he described as a “dirty operation” designed to smear him and his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) administration, a day after more than 50 people – drawn from the families of politicians and businessmen close to Erdogan – were detained by police forces.
“As we fight to make Turkey in the top 10 countries of the world … some are engaged in an effort to halt our fast growth. There are those abroad … and there are extensions of them within our country,” Erdogan told a news conference. “Right now a very dirty operation is going on.”
The detentions were met with steps that The New York Times described as “perceived as a striking back,” with dozens of senior officers – including and especially many involved with battling corruption – being expelled from their posts. Turkey expert Dr. Michael Koplow commented that “it’s incredible that Erdogan doesn’t see that sacking all of these police officials is going to make things so much, much worse.” Meanwhile the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released a report today documenting that, for the second year in a row, Turkey has jailed more journalists than any other country.
“Jailing journalists for their work is the hallmark of an intolerant, repressive society,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said in a statement accompanying the report…”It is disturbing to see the number of jailed journalists rise in countries like Vietnam and Egypt,” Simon said. “But it is frankly shocking that Turkey would be the world’s worst jailer of journalists for the second year in a row.”
Coupled with the corruption crisis, the criticism is likely to deepen concerns that the AKP’s decade-long control over Turkey’s top political institutions has deepened corruption and eroded human rights.
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