Alleged fraudster and former minister’s relative drew huge salary as official at Turkey’s science body
Mesut Hasan Benli ANKARAAn alleged fraudster with familial links to the former science minister, who was arrested as part of a spying case involving the wiretapping of then-Prime Minister President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other top state officials, received 423,000 Turkish Liras over two years during his employment at Turkey’s top science body. It has also been revealed that he used a fake diploma in order to qualify for a shorter military service period.
Hasan Başaran, who is married to former Science, Technology and Industry Minister Nihat Ergün’s niece, received a total salary of 423,000 liras during his tenure as a public certification manager at the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), according to TÜBİTAK’s response to the court’s request.
It was also revealed that Başaran performed a short-term military service using a fake diploma, thus halving the amount of time that he spent on military service.
He reportedly admitted in his court testimony that he produced the diploma using a photography manipulation program.
In the case, the Gölbaşı Public Prosecutor’s Office in Ankara demanded that 26 people be detained as part of the probe into the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) and TÜBİTAK. The court arrested four of the 11 suspects who were sent to court, including Osman Nihat Şen, the former deputy head of the TİB, who was detained on Jan. 21 in front of the court where he had arrived with lawyers to testify.
The suspects, together with Başaran, face charges including “spying,” “destroying the unity of the state,” and “wiretapping both crypto-secure and regular telephones.”
Erdoğan accuses U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, the leader of what Erdoğan calls the “parallel structure” for illegal wiretappings and calls it a “coup attempt,” starting from the revelation of a large corruption investigation in December 2013.
Ergün, who spoke to daily Hürriyet on Jan. 23, said Başaran had shocked the whole family with the fake diploma.
The family used to think that Başaran was a Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) graduate, and only learned about the fraud when he was detained two days ago, Ergün said, highlighting that he had no role in finding the figure employment at TÜBİTAK.
“I am the relative of a person who is victimized,” he said, in reference to his niece, the seven-year wife of Başaran who was unaware of the fraud. “The family is now facing a great trauma.”
Başaran introduced himself to TÜBİTAK as a cryptology specialist, the former minister added.