36 detained in Turkey over sex tape scandal dating back several years

A sex tape saga that affected Turkey's opposition parties several years back has returned to the headlines, as detention orders were issued Tuesday for 120 people in connection with the video.

The sex tape engulfed the centre-left People's Republican Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on the right and has been linked to the same movement of an Islamic cleric that the government blames for the failed coup attempt on July 15.

So far, authorities detained 34 members of the police force and two others in what is known as the "cassette" case, CNN Turk reported.

Deniz Baykal, who was the leader of the CHP, was forced to resign as party chair in 2010 over a video leaked online which showed him having sex with a female party member. MHP politicians had similar problems in 2011.

The government and both of these opposition parties blame Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in the United States, for the July 15 failed putsch.

They also blame his followers for a series of wiretappings and leaks which have wreaked havoc on the Turkish political scene for years, including the sex tapes targeting the opposition and, three years later, leaks purporting to show corruption in government circles.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Gulen were longtime allies and government critics blame the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for letting Gulen's followers infiltrate the state structures over the years.

At the time, some members of the opposition accused the AKP of being behind or at least complacent in the sex tapes leak.

Gulen, who Erdogan formally disavowed after the corruption leaks, denies allegations of being behind the coup plot.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the government would file a second round of documents to the US, as Ankara hopes to get Gulen extradited.

The US has offered assistance and says it would weigh the merit of an actual extradition request, but officials insist there must be proof of Gulen's ties to the plot.

Turkey has been trying to turn up the heat abroad, pressing foreign countries - from Afghanistan to African nations and Germany - to extradite alleged Gulenists and shut down the Islamic movement's schools.

"We are expecting support from rest of the world," Speaker of Parliament Ismail Kahraman told reporters in Ankara.

Turkey has only had moderate success abroad in recent years in its war against the global Gulen movement.

Turkey's state run Anadolu news agency reported last week that three schools and a hospital affiliated with the group in Somalia would now be run operated by the embassy.

The count of government employees suspended since July 15 is more than 58,600 with another 3,500 already permanently expelled, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yidirim told Anadolu. He said most of those already sacked were military personnel, and all Gulenists.

Since the failed putsch, Turkey has arrested more than 10,000 people. The government alleges all are Gulenists.

In the latest move, a government official said detention orders were issued for 98 people, including medics, at the main military hospital in Ankara. Anadolu said about 50 people were detained.

The government, using a state of emergency, has issued decrees to reform the military and impose more civilian oversight. Erdogan is also seeking constitutional changes so the General Staff of the army answers to his office.

Human rights group Amnesty International said that more than two weeks after the government roundup was underway, the whereabouts of many prisoners remains unclear.

Due to lack of capacity in normal jails, suspects are being held all across the country in sports facilities or stables under inhumane conditions, Andrew Gardner, Amnesty's Turkey specialist, told dpa in Istanbul.

He said that detainees must be allowed to communicate with their families and receive access to their attorneys. There remains no official listing of prisoners and where they are being held, particularly for the accused coup leaders, Gardner said.

Amnestly warned in a report last week that police may be engaging in torture of suspected coup plotters, which the Turkish government denies.

Last update: Wed, 03/08/2016 - 10:09
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