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Turkey: 'Phone-hackers' arrested in wiretap probe

Former Cabinet Minister Erdogan Bayraktar, pictured in 2013, is one apparent victim of wiretapping [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 January, 2016

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Anti-terror police arrested at least 30 suspects across the country on Tuesday morning for allegedly wiretapping hundreds of prominent Turkish celebrities and politicians.
A group suspected of hacking the phones and emails of hundreds of leading Turkish figures were arrested early on Tuesday morning, officials have revealed.

Around 30 people have been taken in to custody in a swoop that spread from Izmir in the west to Kayseri in the east, Ankara's chief prosecutor said.

The operation was launched in December to curb the widespread hacking of as many as 432 politicians, journalists and business leaders.

Among those thought to have been wiretapped are Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Tugrul Turkes, former deputy premier Abdullatif Sener and former cabinet minister Erdogan Bayraktar.

Politicians from across the political spectrum are believed to have been targeted, as members of the ruling AK Party, the Republican People's Party and the Nationalist Movement Party have all fallen victim to the alleged hackers.

Anadolu
reported that members of the Turkish armed forces, police and Constitutional Court have also been wiretapped, along with the Energy Market Regulatory Authority and the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency in a far-reaching attack.

In December, a group of 21 police officers were arrested - and later released - having been suspected of insider involvement in the high-profile hacking.

The deputy chief of Ankara police, Loman Kircili, and two former heads of the the Intelligence and Security Branch of the Turkish National Police, Recep Given and Gursel Aktepe, were among those arrested.

The Turkish security forces have yet to name any group as believed responsible for the wiretapping. Officials have also not yet released the identities of those arrested on Tuesday.

The arrests were made before a suspected suicide bombing killed at least ten in Istanbul today.

In separate events, fires broke out at a 12-storey hotel in Istanbul, and at a security service headquarters in the capital, Ankara, on Tuesday - although there is no evidence that the incidents are related.

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