Protesters chant slogans against newly proposed restrictions on the use of the internet and against the Turkish government during a protest on the Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul, on January 18, 2014.
Protesters chant slogans against newly proposed restrictions on the use of the internet and against the Turkish government during a protest on the Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul, on January 18, 2014.

The Turkish government fired or reassigned today some 500 police officers in the capital Ankara as it pressed on with a purge of the country's police force in response to a high-level graft probe.

Senior officers were among those removed from their posts in the latest wave of sackings, the Milliyet daily said on its website.

The Turkish media estimates that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-leaning government has now sanctioned some 6,000 police nationwide, including top officers, in apparent retaliation for a corruption investigation that has struck at the heart of the political elite.

Since the graft scandal erupted in mid-December, dozens of prosecutors, including senior lawyers involved in the investigations into alleged money laundering, gold smuggling and bribery, have also been sacked.

Erdogan accuses supporters of exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally who wields considerable influence in the judiciary and police, of launching the investigation as part of a "coup plot" against his government in a crucial election year.

But Erdogan's purges, coupled with legislation aimed at increasing government control on the judiciary and the Internet, have raised deep concern at home and abroad about the state of democracy in Turkey.

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