Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has put out a finely-balanced statement on corruption: he has vowed to “cut off the arms” of those who are involved, but said that investigations of graft in the Government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — who is now President — are “coup attempts”.

Speaking on Sunday to a provincial congress of the ruling Justice and Development Party, Davutoğlu said, “We are determined to cut off the arms of whoever attempts to embezzle our national resources, even if that is our brother.”

But the Prime Minister denounced the investigation which led to the resignation of four ministers in the Erdoğan Government in December 2013 and sparked recriminations against police officers and prosecutors: “However, we will also stop those who attempted to attack the national will with false claims of corruption.”

Without naming the Gulenist Movement — a former ally now seen by Erdoğan as an implacable enemy — Davutoğlu said the investigations of businessmen and sons of Ministers were coup attempts led by the “parallel structure”.

Turkish authorities recently arrested several leading figures in the media, with the President accusing them of being part of the Gulenist conspiracy.

Davutoğlu insisted on Sunday that the arrests were judicial and had nothing to do with politics, accusing the detained editors and heads of broadcasters of plotting against another religious community: “Therefore, this case is about human rights….I repeat once again: These operations have nothing to do with press freedom.”