Emergency decree gives Turkish security forces authority to open ‘suspicious’ letters

Emergency decree gives Turkish security forces authority to open ‘suspicious’ letters

Mesut Hasan Benli – ANKARA
Emergency decree gives Turkish security forces authority to open ‘suspicious’ letters

A recently issued state of emergency decree has given the Turkish security forces authority to open letters deemed “suspicious,” a significant change to the law on “seizure of mails.”

According to the 696-numbered state of emergency decree issued early on Dec. 24, letters and envelopes believed to be containing “suspicious” materials will now be able to be opened by security officials at prosecutors’ demands.

The Code of Criminal Procedure’s previous law allowed that mails “suspected of constituting evidence of a crime” and mails that “have to be within the reach of the courthouse during the investigations and cases” be seized with the approval of judges and prosecutors, who could later open them.

The new decree, however, makes it possible for the security forces to also open letters and envelopes.

There are several limitations to the procedure, with the security forces being able to open letters in relation to certain criminal activities.

Authority to open letters were granted in incidents related to “possession of dangerous materials without permission or passing them on to other hands, crimes related to the production and trade of drugs or stimulants, the crimes included in 12th and 13th articles on firearms, knives and other objects, the crimes included in the 67th and 68th articles of the law on the protection of cultural and natural assets.”

Meanwhile, the state of emergency decree also granted prosecutors the authority to object to court decisions on the release of suspects.

Turkey declared a state of emergency after the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, and has since then been issuing decrees that introduce significant regulations in a wide-range of areas.

Turkey, letters, state of emergency decree