Turkey's top judicial body has launched an investigation into claims that certain Gülen Movement judges and prosecutors formed a "parallel judicial power" within the country's judiciary as extensions of the Gülenist structure within state institutions.
Justice Minister and Chairman of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) Kenan İpek said in a written statement on Tuesday that an office of the HSYK had opened a file and ruled that an inspector should investigate the claims.
The government has long held that an alleged structure of bureaucrats and senior officials are embedded in the country's institutions, including the judiciary and the police, and are plotting to undermine it.
İpek said the move came amid claims that judges and public prosecutors had "established a parallel judicial power as offshoots of the terrorist organization called the "parallel state," which has its own organization and hierarchical structure in the judiciary, [and] is acting in an organized way as an alternative to the state judiciary."
The statement described the Gülen Movement's infiltration as an "organization that targets those who express dissent, implements the decisions taken by senior executives of the organization upon intelligence gathered via the police department and the judiciary and behaves unjustly toward several individuals by using judiciary power, regardless of their innocence."
Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Hadi Salihoğlu also announced on Tuesday that 24 suspects had been taken into custody in an Istanbul-based operation launched early Monday across Turkey in an ongoing Gülen Movement probe.
Salihoğlu said in a written statement that five other suspects are still at large, and arrest warrants had been issued for 29 suspects on charges of "forming a criminal organization, wiretapping, espionage, violation of privacy, storing personal data in violation of the law and the forgery of official documents."
The detainees include the former vice-head of the Istanbul Security Department and the chief of the Istanbul Organized Crime Control Bureau.
Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Gülen Movement who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania in the U.S., is also sought as the number-one suspect in the wiretapping investigation. His movement is accused of infiltrating state institutions with the alleged aim of toppling the elected government.
The movement operates hundreds of schools in more than 140 countries around the world. Gülen schools in the U.S. have faced investigations for hiring more immigrant workers than Google and failing to properly use public funds in 2009. Gülen schools have also been accused of mostly hiring Turkish teachers and paying them more than their American counterparts.