Mobile phones used by Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu have been illegally wiretapped by police officers who normally act on his orders, according to a story in the Cumhuriyet daily on Thursday.
After the wiretapping incident was noticed, Interior Ministry inspectors launched two separate investigations in Ankara and İstanbul into the police officers, and six officers in Ankara and İstanbul as well as one of the deputy directors of the Security Directorate General’s Intelligence Unit were replaced.
The police officers said during their questioning by the inspectors that they mistakenly wiretapped the phones of the minister.
It has not yet been revealed on whose orders Soylu’s phones were wiretapped; however, it is widely known that there is a rivalry between Soylu and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, who is also the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, about who will lead the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) after Erdoğan.
In the past months Soylu made public remarks that revealed he was offended by Albayrak’s actions, and media reports said he submitted his resignation but that it was not accepted by Erdoğan.
In the meantime, Interior Ministry Secretary-General Türkay Öksüz said in a statement to Cumhuriyet that there is no investigation underway regarding the claims that Soylu’s phones were illegally wiretapped.
Soylu was the leader of the Democrat Party before he joined the ranks of the AKP in 2012. He was elected an AKP deputy in the general elections of 2015 and was appointed as interior minister in 2016. He was a strong critic of Erdoğan before he joined the AKP.