29 police officers detained as part of illegal wiretappings

29 police officers detained as part of illegal wiretappings

Toygun Atilla ISTANBUL
29 police officers detained as part of illegal wiretappings

A police officer, who was detained as part of the illegal wiretapping investigation in the anti-terror unit, raises his fists as he is detained by his colleagues. CİHAN photo

Turkish police have discovered the wiretapped recordings of 101 high-profile persons, including the president and the prime minister, on two hard disks located in the Istanbul anti-terror department, as 29 police officers have been detained as part of a similar operation on Feb. 8.

Chief Public Prosecutor Hadi Salihoğlu said in a written statement on Feb. 9 that 29 suspects have been detained on charges of “establishing and managing a terror organization, being a member of the terror organization and political and military spying as part of a terror organization,” after police discovered the wiretapped recordings of 101 high-profile people, including academics, ambassadors, civil servants and politicians, between 2010 and 2013.

Two hard disks containing the recordings were reportedly found in the offices of the Istanbul anti-terror unit. The recordings, which were supposed to be deleted after the end of the prosecutions, have never been deleted, according to an examination.

The Istanbul prosecutor’s office said police officers had begun a “mock” investigation into the Selam-Tevhid organization, wiretapping 251 people since 2010. It ordered the examination of the hard disks and computers seized from the offices of these police officers.

With the new evidence gathered from the hard disks, the prosecutors instructed the police to begin a new operation.

Istanbul police began this operation on Feb. 8 in which a total of 29 police officers were detained on Feb. 9. Police chief Gafur Ataç, who took former Chief of Staff İlker Başbuğ into Silivri Prison when he was arrested as part of the Ergenekon coup plot case, was among the police officers detained on Feb. 9.

Meanwhile, anti-terror department police chiefs Yurt Atayün and Ömer Köse, as well as police chiefs Ertan Erçıktı, Hayati Başdağ, Kazım Aksoy and Serdar Bayraktutan, who are currently under arrest as part of the previous investigations, are also suspects in the newest operation. They will be brought to the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s office to give their testimonies over the recent evidence.

The suspects were accused of conducting illegal surveillance of the internet data of National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan and wiretapping and recording the MİT chief’s phone conversations, painting him as a member of a terror organization under the nickname “Emin.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu were among the names wiretapped under the “mock” investigation into the Selam-Tevhid organization.

A total of 76 police officers from the Istanbul anti-terror department were detained as part of an illegal wiretapping operation on July 22, 2014. Some 16 police chiefs, including high-profile officers, including Atayün and Köse, who was head of the anti-terror department at the time of the Dec. 17, 2013, alleged graft operation, were arrested and four people were banned from leaving the country. A further 56 police officers were released afterwards.