Baris Guler, the son of the Interior Minister Muammer Guler, and Kaan Caglayan, the son of the Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, were charged with acting as intermediaries in order to give and take bribes, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.

The chief executive of state-owned Halkbank, Suleyman Aslan, and Azerbaijani businessman Reza Zarrab were also charged in connection with the scandal, private NTV and CNN-Turk televisions reported.

Zarrab was charged with forming a ring that bribed officials to disguise illegal gold sales to sanctions-hit Iran via Halkbank, Hurriyet said.

It bring the total number of people detained as part of the investigation to 24, with many of those taken into custody seen as allies of the prime minister.

Unprecedented in scope, the operation began Tuesday when police arrested scores of people in a series of dawn raids.

A court on Saturday ordered the release of 33 others, including the mayor of Istanbul’s Fatih district, Mustafa Demir, and the son of Turkey’s environment minister, Turkish media reported.

The scandal has rattled the stock market and sent the Turkish lira to an all-time low.

‘Dirty operation’

But Erdogan, who has run Turkey since 2002 as the head of a conservative Islamic-leaning government, claims that the arrests are part of a “dirty operation” aimed at undermining his rule and has vowed to go after those who have instigated it.

Since the scandal broke, Erdogan has sacked dozens of police officials, including the Istanbul police chief, for cooperating with the investigation without permission.

Turkish media said another 17 were fired on Friday alone, amid a widening purge of the police command.

Friday also saw Influential Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen release a statement condemning the police purges, further raising the stakes in a crisis seen as the biggest challenge yet to Erdogan’s administration.

Erdogan has refrained from naming Gulen, who has influence in the police and judiciary, as the hand behind the corruption investigation. But Gulen’s Hizmet (or Service) movement has been increasingly at odds with Erdogan in recent months.

“…Those who don’t see the thief but go after those trying to catch the thief, who don’t see the murder but try to defame others by accusing innocent people — let God bring fire to their houses, ruin their homes, break their unities,” Gulen said in a recording uploaded to one of his websites.

The Erdogan government’s allegation of a plot against it echoes its reaction to mass protests that shook the country in June, when a police crackdown on a peaceful sit-in against plans to raze an Istanbul park sparked huge demonstrations against the prime minister and his party.

source: france24