Islamic cleric denies links to Turkish graft probe

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Istanbul police leading a major corruption and bribery investigation targeting allies of Erdogan have seized shoe boxes stashed with money totaling some $4.5 million in the home of the chief executive of a state-owned bank, a Turkish news agency reported Wednesday. The Dogan news agency said the shoe boxes were discovered on bookshelves in the home of Halk Bank's CEO, Suleyman Aslan, who is among dozens of people — including the sons of government ministers — detained for questioning as part of the corruption and bribery investigation.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — An influential U.S.-based Turkish cleric has denied that he was behind a police corruption and bribery probe targeting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's allies.

Dozens of people, including three government ministers' son, were detained as part of the investigation, which many believe was launched by followers of Fethullah Gulen's moderate Islamic movement. His followers are reported to have a foothold in Turkey's police and judiciary.

Gulen's lawyer Orhan Erdemli issued a statement late Wednesday saying the cleric had no "involvement or connection" to the probe or to officials leading the investigation.

The statement came as the government continued to dismiss police officials allegedly involved in the probe and appointed two new prosecutors it said would ease the burden of the investigation.