Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is blaming an international campaign to discredit his government for the corruption scandal that has embroiled his administration.
Speaking to supporters in Manisa, western Turkey, on Saturday, Erdogan again refused to resign.
So far, 24 people have been arrested on bribery charges and three ministers whose sons were caught up in the investigation have left their jobs. Erdogan was forced to reshuffle his cabinet in the wake of the ministers standing down and one called on the prime minister himself to resign.
Media reports say the corruption probe is over alleged illicit money transfers to Iran and bribery for construction projects.
Trying to explain the scandal that has put him and his AK Party under pressure, Erdogan said: “International powers are behind this. Dissemination propaganda has been launched against us. There is a gang, a cabal organising within the state.”
As the protests in Turkey against Erdogan continue, there is increasing interest from outside the country. European Commissioner for Enlargement Štefan Füle has urged Turkey as an enlargement candidate country to ensure allegations are dealt with “in a transparent and impartial manner.”