Turkey's espionage probe widens as key suspect surrenders
ANKARA / ISTANBUL
DHA PhotoTwo key suspects from Turkey’s legal wiretapping body were detained on Jan. 21, as police staged an operation in six cities across Turkey as part of a vast spying case, which includes allegations of illegal wiretapping of top ranking state officials, including the prime minister.
Osman Nihat Şen, the former deputy head of the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB), the top wiretapping body, was detained in front of Ankara’s Gölbaşı Court, where he had arrived with his lawyers to testify in the case on claims of “spying,” “destroying the unity of the state,” and “wiretapping crypto-secure and normal telephones.”
Three of the wiretapped crypto-secure phones belonged to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with one of them probably used by his son Bilal Erdoğan, according to claims.
Others who were wiretapped several times included Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was the foreign minister at the time, intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, Constitutional Court head Haşim Kılıç, Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, and members of the National Security Council (MGK).
Şen was set to make a press briefing before he was detained.
Hasan Palaz, the former president of the Informatics and Information Security Research Center (BİLGEM), which works under Turkey’s top science watchdog, also surrendered at the same court after delivering remarks to journalists, saying the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) was creating crypto-free mobiles "at NATO standards."
“TÜBİTAK does not have knowledge about who handled the telephones. I don’t know what happened to them after we delivered them,” Palaz added.
Meanwhile, 10 people in the southwestern province of Isparta and 10 elsewhere were sent to court on Jan. 21, one day after being detained at TİB and TÜBİTAK.
President Erdoğan said he knew that he was wiretapped on a number of occasions when he was prime minister. “This is an issue that I have been saying for the past two years,” he told reporters on Jan. 21.
“I have also said that the presidency was wiretapped,” he added.