The saga of indictments and arrests for high level corruption in and around the Turkish ruling coterie took several new turns yesterday.
Police chiefs in 15 cities and the deputy head of the country’s police force were removed by Prime Minister Erdogan on Wednesday, after some 350 Turkish police officers in Ankara were reassigned to different positions on Tuesday.
Police chiefs in Turkey’s leading cities, including Ankara, the capital; Adana, a southern town by the Syrian border; and Diyarbakir, the hub of the Kurdish heartland, were summoned to the headquarters of the police to be reassigned.
In Turkey’s largest Aegean city, Izmir, police officers were reshuffled on Tuesday, almost immediately after they had detained 25 suspects, including pro-government businessmen, on corruption allegations over the construction and management of the city harbor, the private Dogan news agency reported.
In Ankara, draft legislation is being drawn up to increase executive appointment powers, and thus control, of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors — from which the corruption investigations have emanated.
Analysts said the proposed legislation would undercut the judicial independence set out in a constitutional change supported by Mr. Erdogan’s government in a referendum in 2010.
“With this legislation, the government is launching an operation of revenge against the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors,” Hikmet Sami Turk, a former minister of justice, said in an interview. “The prime minister has regarded the graft probe as a judicial coup against his government, so now, with this legislation, his government launches a countercoup against the judiciary.”
In addition a law is being drafted to tighten up oversight and monitoring of Internet traffic — clearly aimed at protesters’ ability to exchange ideas and to mobilize.
“If the draft Bill No 5651 is implemented, the life will harder for internet users in Turkey. Censures on citizen journalism, scientific research and social media will be a routine,” he said.
He also added that new institutions will allows authorities to implement censures in skyrocket speed.
“Due to censure, service providers will enhance their auto-censure mechanisms and alternative methods like DNS change will no longer work,” he added.
Several area experts weigh in on whether the current Erdogan moves are dangerous for the region.