Turkey detains 56 wanted criminals from 18 countries

Turkey said Wednesday it had detained 56 high-priority suspects wanted by 18 countries for crimes ranging from drug dealing and money laundering to murder, counterfeiting and assault.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said the suspects were listed on Interpol’s “red notice” on “diffusion message” systems, which flag suspects sought for arrest and extradition by individual countries.

The detained people were wanted in the United States, Germany, India, and several former Soviet republics as well as other parts of Asia and the Middle East.

Yerlikaya’s office did not disclose names, noting only that the suspects were rounded up in coordinated security sweeps across 11 provinces, including Istanbul.

The Turkish interior ministry and MIT intelligence service have announced a rapid series of high-profile raids in recent weeks.

They announced the detention of more than 200 people allegedly linked to Islamic State group jihadists in two separate series of raids ahead of New Year celebrations.

They announced the detention of 34 people accused of spying for Israel on Tuesday.

Yerlikaya is seen as a close and ambitious political ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announcing major arrests since his appointment last year.

He has ruled himself out of running as mayor of Istanbul in high-stakes elections set for March 31, preferring to keep his post as interior minister.

Erdogan’s Islamic conservative party hopes to win back control of Turkey’s three main cities — Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir — from the secular opposition in the March polls.

✍️ AFP