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Erdogan Says Foreign Plot Behind Corruption Probe

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to expel foreign ambassadors, blaming them for a vast corruption and bribery investigation being conducted against people close to his government.

Erdogan's accusations on December 21 came after two government ministers' sons were arrested along with several others including Suleyman Aslan, the CEO of the state-owned Halkbank.

Turkish media said that a total of 24 people were jailed pending trial, accused of taking or facilitating bribes.

Local media reports say the investigation relates to illicit money transfers to Iran and large-scale bribery for construction projects.

Erdogan has hit back by removing heads of police units from their post, including 14 in Ankara on December 20, and sacking the head of Istanbul's police on December 19.

Erdogan said the "dirty operation" was timed to harm his government before local elections in March.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP