Turkey’s Interior Ministry sacks whistleblower along with corrupt police chief

Selami Tellioğlu, a retired police officer who notified his higher-ups about a bribery incident, was expelled by the Interior Ministry’s disciplinary council alongside the department chief he exposed, news website T24 reported on Saturday.

In the same decision, Photography Department Chief Ekrem Eren Ermiş was expelled from the police force by the ministry over accusations of bribery, which were made public by mafia boss Sedat Peker in September.

According to Peker, in January this year, Ermiş demanded a bribe of 500,000 liras ($36,000) from Bedros Şirinoğlu, president of the Armenian Foundations Union, via an officer assigned to him for protection.

Ermiş allegedly told officer Tellioğlu that a vehicle connected to Şirinoğlu had been used to transport laundered money, Peker alleged, via journalist Erk Acarer.

Tellioğlu then spoke about the demand with Şirinoğlu, who wrote a letter to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and called the minister to inform him of the crime, triggering the investigation.

During the investigation, where Tellioğlu submitted into evidence recordings of his phone and WhatsApp conversations with the police chiefs, the whistleblowing officer was pressured by higher-ups and later assigned to a different department. As a result of pressure, the officer petitioned his retirement.

Peker also implicated two other police chiefs, Protection Department Deputy Chief Ali Saraç and Smuggling Department Chief Engin Süngü, as having knowledge of the alleged money laundering operation.

The mobster then said police chief Ermiş had been arrested in 2011, for aiding heroin smugglers during a police operation. Following a brief stint behind bars, the police chief was returned to duty.

“Let’s say Smuggling Department Chief Engin Süngü caught a load of drugs,” Acarer cited Peker as saying. “What could he do if a relative of the Interior Minister came to him and told him to release a suspect? If he refuses, a report would appear out of nowhere to document his crimes, and he would be expelled, maybe even arrested.”

The mobster’s last known location was Dubai, but he has been incommunicado since November 25, according to his lawyer. Peker switched from YouTube to Twitter in June, after security measures made it impossible for him to upload videos, by his own account.

Among crimes he accused government officials of are corruption, drug smuggling, sexual assault, and murder.

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