Dozens of police officers detained as Turkey expands wiretapping inquiry

PM Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to 'go into their lairs' and carry out a 'witch-hunt' to catch those involved

Dozens of Turkish police officers were detained today in a widening inquiry into the alleged wiretapping of the Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan.

Police took 33 of their colleagues into custody in Istanbul, Ankara and across south-east Turkey, NTV said, days ahead of the country’s first presidential election, which opinion polls forecast Mr Erdogan will win.

More than 100 officers were detained in July in the same investigation, aimed at what Mr Erdogan called a “parallel structure” within the police, judiciary and other institutions loyal to the US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Mr Erdogan accuses Mr Gulen, a former ally, of being behind a plot to oust him and has vowed to “go into their lairs” and carry out a “witch-hunt” to catch those involved. “The structure in the parallel police has started to emerge,” Mr Erdogan said in an interview with Kanal 24 on Monday night, accusing Turkey’s main opposition parties of operating in tandem with Mr Gulen.

“God willing this will come to an end. But I have to say  that we are just at the beginning of this business. The judiciary has now started to do what is necessary.” Mr Erdogan described Mr Gulen’s movement as a threat to national security.

Mr Gulen and his Hizmet, or “Service” movement, denies scheming against Mr Erdogan, but the alliance between Hizmet and the government has crumbled in recent years.

Of the 115 officers detained in July, 31 have been remanded in custody pending possible trial. Many of them have said the case against them was “politically motivated”.

Police declined to comment on the investigation.