Turkey Ousts 350 Cops Overnight
Organized crime, national security cops turned into traffic cops amidst corruption probe
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2014 12:36 PM CST
Riot police stand guard as protesters holding placards with photos of US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone stage an anti-US protest, outside the US embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Dec. 23, 2013.   (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

(Newser) – In one fell swoop, Turkey ousted 350 police officers at midnight, in what many analysts believe is an attempt by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to quash the corruption investigation against him. The affected officers come mostly from the organized crime, fiscal crime, terrorism, and cybercrime units—including 80 directors or senior officers, the New York Times reports. Most were reassigned to traffic police positions or district police stations, while some 250 replacements were summoned from outside the capital.

Hours after the purge, Turkey's top court said it would investigate allegations against the officials leading the corruption inquiry, the BBC reports. Last month police searched the interior minister's son's home, and found large amounts of cash and a money counting machine, CNN explains. At least four Cabinet members have been implicated and forced to resign as the scandal grows, but Erdogan has denounced the probe as an "international conspiracy." News of the arrest sent the lira plummeting towards record lows, Bloomberg reports.