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Thousands protest against corruption in Turkey

Thousands protest against corruption in Turkey

by Reuters

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the Turkish capital Ankara on Saturday to protest against the government after the latest corruption probe.

Demonstrators said they came to stand against corruption and for justice in their country.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has cast a wide-ranging graft investigation, which poses one of the biggest challenges of his 11-year rule, as an attempted "judicial coup". He has responded by purging the police force of hundreds of officers and seeking tighter control over judicial appointments.

Erdogan's supporters have cast the corruption probe as a smear campaign contrived, ahead of elections this year, by a U.S.-based Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who exercises broad, if covert, influence in the judiciary and media.

The affair, exposing a deep rift within the Turkish political establishment, has driven the lira to new lows and shaken investor confidence in a country whose stability has largely derived from Erdogan's strong grip on power.

But it is the government's reaction, seeking tighter control over the judiciary, police and even the internet, which risks doing the deepest long-term damage, not least to Turkey's ambitions to join the European Union and to its relations with Washington, already critical of its record on human rights.