Interior Minister Efkan Ala has stated that around 200 public servants so far have sued Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his remarks on the alleged "parallel state" working to overthrow the government. Ala also claimed that these cases actually prove the existence of such a shadow state, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Ala's reported remarks on the issue came during the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) camp-like meeting between its leadership and deputies in the province of Afyon earlier this month. At the meeting, he was questioned about the government's actions against "the parallel state" and the "Cemaat," referring to the followers of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, who has been in voluntary exile in the United States for over a decade.
Ala told the camp that a "parallel structure within the state" had illegally eavesdropped on almost 600,000 individuals through operations by their members employed in the judiciary and the police.
The followers of the Gulen Movement are often referred to as the "Hizmet" (Service) Movement or the "Cemaat" (Community).
Since the opening of the huge graft probe in December, the term "parallel state" has been commonly used by critics to refer to the movement. The alleged "parallel state" is accused by Erdogan of orchestrating the corruption scandal in order to unseat him, as the graft probe ensnared the sons of three former ministers and businesspeople known to be close to the government. The AKP responded with a huge counter-reaction, particularly in the judiciary and the police - where Gulen's followers are believed to have been prominent - as it aimed to contain the damage.
According to Ala, since Dec. 17 some 200 cases have been opened against Erdogan over his "parallel state" remarks.
"Most of those people who opened cases are employed in the judiciary and the police. When opening cases, they said they had been 'offended and hurt' due to the prime minister's remarks. This means that they acknowledge being members of that structure. Why do they take it personally, when the prime minister does not even cite any names in his speeches? They have been confirming their membership of the organization in this way," Ala was quoted as saying by sources at the meeting.
The AKP deputies who listened to Ala's remarks arrived at the conclusion that the 200 people who sued Erdogan would be investigated as part of a government's steps against the "parallel structure," the source added.
"The parallel structure has been eavesdropping since 2010 and has been collecting documents. We have confirmed that they conducted wiretapping in all 81 provinces of Turkey," Ala also reportedly stated.
At the time, before the local elections took place on March 30, AKP Deputy Chair Mustafa Shentop had stated that an investigation against an illegal organization within the state was underway. However, during a press conference following a recent Cabinet meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc rejected that an official investigation into the "parallel state" was underway.