Intel agency probes bugs in Turkish PM’s office
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made public on Dec 22 that wiretapping devices had been discovered in his office in the capital. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ
Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) had already launched a massive investigation into alleged wiretapping devices found in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Ankara office before the premier publicized the discovery on Dec. 22, official sources confirmed yesterday.
The spy agency reportedly first learned in February that Erdoğan was being listened to.
“This is not a recent event. MİT was informed of the bugs before the incident was revealed and an investigation was already launched into it. This was a secret that was being kept until Erdoğan himself announced in a television interview that he had been listened to,” a source speaking on condition of anonymity told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.
MİT’s press department said they could not give any official information and neither confirmed nor denied the claims.
According to a special report for daily Hürriyet by Metehan Demir, there is much speculation as to who has been conducting the alleged eavesdropping, with Erdoğan himself suggesting that it was actors in the deep state. Others have hypothesized that Erdoğan’s bodyguards, his co-workers, or people close to the Gülen movement might have installed the bugs, although none of the theories have been confirmed.
Sources also denied that Erdoğan’s security team was restructured in September as a result of suspicions of eavesdropping.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said yesterday that both an administrative and a judicial investigation had been launched into the wiretapping, confirming earlier reports on the issue.“It is seen in other countries too. The fight against these [wiretapping attempts] has begun. It is not possible to say that we have finished off these [incidents]; we are trying to reduce them,” Ergin said in an interview with the NTV. “The Prime Ministry is conducting an administrative investigation. Both an administrative and a judicial investigation is being conducted,” Ergin said.
Erdoğan himself made public that he was wiretapped on Dec. 22 during a live interview. “You can’t know whether somebody put or did not bug my office, but relevant units found [the bug] during a search in my office, under my house. Who put it there?” he said.
Opposition parties criticized the government over the incident. “If a prime minister announces such a thing, he has to find and reveal who is responsible for it. This mentality says, ‘I was listened, so you could all be listened to,’” Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy parliamentary group chair Oktay Vural said.
“How will a prime minister who cannot even protect his own telephone protect the communication freedom of the whole nation?” said Muharrem İnce, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy parliamentary group chair.