Intel not tasked with carrying weapons, Turkish main opposition leader says
Gendarmerie teams stopped the seven trucks Jan. 19 following a tip-off that they were carrying weapons and ammunition. DHA photoThe Turkish intelligence agency is not tasked with carrying weapons, main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said, following the discovery of weapons in a search of seven National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks in the province of Adana, near Syria.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader denounced a situation in which the state has become “embroiled in illegal activities,” and dismissed the argument from government officials that the security forces did not have the authority to search the trucks. He emphasized that, on the contrary, it is the MİT that does not have a legal right to carry weapons.
“They say these trucks belong to the MİT and that no search can be performed. As far as I know, the MİT has no such task as smuggling weapons,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters in Ankara on Jan. 20.
“If we look into the law on the MİT, the organization has no authority to carry out operational activities. It only collects information and presents it to the prime minister, that’s it. The Turkish Republic has become engulfed inside an illegal activity. Who will give the account tomorrow?” he added.
On Jan. 19, gendarmerie teams stopped seven trucks following a tip-off that they were carrying weapons and ammunition. Security forces reportedly seized a number of weapons after the search was performed, but reporters who took photographs of the trucks were detained.
In a later statement, the Adana Governor’s Office confirmed that the personnel in the trucks were MİT officials conducting “a regular duty.”
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) expressed anger over the incident, slamming the security forces for “exceeding their authority.”
AKP Deputy Head and Spokesperson Hüseyin Çelik said during a live broadcast on CNN Türk on Jan. 19 that the intention of the prosecutors went “far beyond just prosecuting.”
“The MİT is the intelligence institution of the state and its laws are clear: According to Article 26 of the law on the MİT, any procedure regarding it should be authorized by the prime minister … There are some balances in international politics, the state has its secrets as well,” Çelik said.
He confirmed that the trucks belonged to the MİT, but downplayed reports claiming that weapons had been found. “What’s inside is not your business. The duties of the MİT have been established in the Constitution and by the law. The limits within which it can be prosecuted have been determined. Nobody can do simply as he wishes,” Çelik said.
‘Turkey interfering in Syria’
Meanwhile, following the incident the CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu also accused the government of “interfering” in Syria’s internal affairs. “The incident is this: Weapons are carried in those trucks. Nobody should be fooled. The Turkish Republic’s legitimacy is being brought into question in the international [community],” he said, also criticizing the government’s inability to hide the trucks.
Earlier this month, Hatay Governor Celalettin Lekesiz blocked the official search of another truck, arguing that the cargo was a state secret. The truck then continued on its route after the prosecutor noted the development. The government later announced that the truck was carrying aid to Turkmens in Syria.
The latest truck incident comes as ties between the government and the movement of the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen are more strained than ever, in the wake of a graft probe launched last month. In response to the damaging graft scandal, the government responded with massive purges at the Police Department and a move to increase its control over the judiciary.
Çelik said he did not know whether the prosecutor who stopped the trucks was a follower of the Gülen Movement.
“Let us assume that he is a member [of the Gülen Movement]. What has been happening in Turkey recently is this: Some are trying to shape politics by using the movement’s strength. When I ask friends from the movement, they tell me that they have nothing to do with all these operations. So I, rightly, tell them not to support what is being done. Don’t support it in your media outlets,” he said.